Title :                   The Conept of Love in the Works of Guilhem IX and Signs of its Reappearance in some early Troubadours


Degree :              Master of Philosophy

Department :       French Studies

Supervisors :      Wolfgang van Emden,  Peter Noble


Name :                  Dagmar Coward Kuschke

Date :                    31st March 1993 – 13th December 1996




Remark 1

In 1993 I was accused of not having considered sufficiently my predecessors in Provençal scholarship. I have therefore produced amendments in the form of detailed reviews of some works by leading scholars :


Simon Gaunt                 Troubadours and Irony; Cambridge 1989


Jörn Gruber                   Die Dialektik des Trobar, Untersuchungen zur Struktur und Entwicklung dess occitanischen und franzoesischen

                                        Minnesangs des 12. Jahrhunderts, Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für Romanische Philologie, Band 194; Tuebingen 1983


Linda Paterson              Troubadours and Eloquence; Oxford 1975


Ulrich Moelk                  Trobar Clus – Trobar Leu; Muenchen 1994


Jacques Roubaud         La Fleur Inverse; Paris 1994


Charles Camproux       Seigneur Dieu qui es du monde tête et roi, Canso III de Guilhem de Peitieus in Mélanges Le Gentil S.E.D.E.S.

                                          n1973; pp. 161-74


These reviews are followed by the Abstract of my study.


A    Basic Considerations

In his foreword to the 2nd edition of Europaeische Literatur und Lateinisches Mittelalter (1) E.R.Curtius writes about the nature of philology: “Die Mathematik darf sich mit Recht ihrer Exaktheit ruehmen. Aber auch die Philologie ist der Strenge faehig. Sie muss Ergebnisse liefern, die verifizierbar sind.”. Translation: “Mathematics are justly proud of their exactness. But philology, too, is capable of rigour. It must produce results which are verifiable.

This high view of philology as an equal partner of mathematics is based on man’s need to understand by means of his reasoning faculties. He must satisfy his reason which is the only authority to decide about the validity of proposed results. It must therefore be possible to verify results in order to assess their ability, or not, to meet the demands of reason. They are then accepted, or refuted, by one consent. This is philology.

Results that cannot be verified are philologically worthless.

In order to produce verifiable results, the methodology to be used in the case of Troubadour poetry will have to respect the following points :

Results must be achieved by careful analysis of the whole poem.

Translations have to be exact, accounting for all constituents of the text. This is of crucial importance in the case of obscure texts.

In the case of ambiguity, rejection of one possibility in favour of another must be justified. If justification is not possible, ambiguity must be considered a feature of the text.

Arguments must be supported by references to all parts of the poem. Quotations of isolated lines or passages are not an adequate foundation for statements concerning the poem as a whole.

The text alone holds the clues for its interpretation.

Non-verifiable and therefore philologically worthless are results obtained by means of :

pure assertion (which does not gain in cogency by repetition).

speculation, which leads to conditional statements, statements expressing belief/disbelief, probability, acceptability, etc.; hypothesis.

extra-textual sources (which cannot serve as a basis for statements about the text under discussion).

references to other scholars (which cannot replace evidence from the text).


B   Practical application

It is useful to examine the achievements of Provençal scholarship in the light of Curtius’ stipulation.

Notes at the end of each review.


1.  S. Gaunt           Troubadours and Irony;  Cambridge 1989

Analysis of methodology used :

Based on Gruber’s “seminal work Die Dialektik des Trobar” (p.2), Gaunt concludes: “In theory then one might expect irony to occur in the troubadour lyric.” (p.3) This means that Gaunt’s work is not based on discoveries he has made in the texts, but on a preconceived idea deduced from another scholar and expressed with uncertainty (“In theory…one might…”), which he will be seeking to confirm by means of the texts.


p.14  Commenting on two lines of Marcabru (XXX.50_51), the Critic writes: “One can understand the anger at the knight’s advances, but what she actually says is that she is angry because he has praised her too much, as if this in itself were reprehensible. The only reason that this should be so is that exaggerated praise was recognised as criticism.”

The Critic gives his personal reaction – “one can understand” (other readers might not understand) – followed by a clumsy paraphrase and the unsubstantiated conclusion that the girl’s reaction is caused by “exaggerated praise…recognised as criticism”. This conclusion is the Critic’s own idea, the only argument he can think of, expressed with reserve “…should be so…”, after having used a straight indicative: “she is angry because he has praised her too much”. He comes to this conclusion on the strength of two isolated lines, his own imagination and the translation of enojada as “angry”, ignoring the other meanings of this word which are rejected without justification.

Commenting on seven lines by Peire Vidal, the Critic does not prove the presence of irony, but is happy to suspect it…”it is difficult not to suspect irony here”.

cf. also p.27  “there are no grounds for suspecting irony here”


p.37 A hypothetical statement like many others: “perhaps the problem this text poses can be resolved if it is interpreted as being ironic”;  “it is hard not to suspect irony”.

On the same page and on the above basis the statement of fact (indicative):

“There is ironic ambiguity from the outset.”

The Critic claims: “Raimon de Miraval takes the idea (excessive praise = criticism) a stage further, equating excessive praise with mockery.”, followed by quotation and translation of seven lines and by two lines of his summary and uncertain (“probably”) comment. He does not explain in how far “mockery” is a further stage of the idea – surely mockery itself is criticism – and in fact replaces “mockery” by “criticism” in his own comment.


p.20 Comment on Guilhem IX, 1.1:

“Various interpolations have been suggested for the first line, but the simplest solution is to leave the manuscript reading as it stands, even though it is hypometric.”

Nobody would deny that this is the simplest solution. However, what about the problem posed by the metre? The Critic does not address it.

“In the manuscript the line is clearly ironic: it so patently contradicts the fact that the real or intended meaning must be the opposite of the literal or pretended meaning. In other words covinen is intended to convey descovinen…The humour of the poem depends on the poet’s pretence in this first line that what he says will be seemly, and the audience’s gradual realisation that it is not.”

The meaning of the verb “contradict” cannot be strengthened by the adverb “patently” which on the contrary betrays uncertainty on the part of the Critic who wants to convince by pure assertion. This is confirmed by the use of “must be”, instead of a plain indicative, in the same sentence. On this uncertainty the Critic bases a statement of fact (indicative) in the following sentence: covinen is intended…” A few lines down he represents irony as a fact: “The irony of the first line intensifies…”, only to call his own view into doubt by stating five lines on: “If this poem is ironic…”. This procedure is characteristic of the whole book.

Without giving any evidence the Critic declares the existence of several meanings as well as that of humour for this poem – a simple kind of humour which may appeal as such to the Critic (but not necessarily to other readers) who gives his view of the whole poem summarily without regard for the obvious obscurities (2). In a conditional statement at the end of his comments he concedes that his theory lacks in cogency: “If this poem is ironic…”. But what if it is not?


p.21 Comment on Guilhem IX, 2.18: “Guilhem is talking about women who are guarded and kept away from male society.”  However, there is only one woman in the poem who is in contact with the Poet and in the company of gardadors.

The Critic’s statement does not relate to the quoted line, but to a topic he has in mind, which means that he approaches the poem with a preconceived idea which he will seek to confirm.

Based on a single line, he gives free vent to his imagination: palafrei “designates” the servant; caval signals knight (why not a simple ‘rider’?), comprar “designates” the “sexual act” which prompts the Critic’s disapproval, he qualifies it as “sordid and demeaning” (cf. also p.34 “obscene gaming imagery”).  However, the reader is not interested in the Critic’s moral standards nor in  his personal, subjective – much as it may be imaginative – “understanding” of the quoted words. The reader wants to know what the meaning of the quoted line is. The Critic does not say.

Comment on 6,57-60: “Guilhem is ostensibly describing a game of dice; in fact the dice are a metaphor for the male organs, the gaming table represents the woman’s dress or sexual organs.”  Again the Critic makes a pure assertion unsupported by the slightest evidence from the text.

“There can be little doubt about the interpretation” – does the Critic have doubts after all?- “for earlier in the poem Guilhem referred to the game as a joc grosser (l.45)”,    “a lewd game”. “lewd” is the Critic’s choice for grosser because this meaning fits into his preconception. The rejection of other meanings is not justified by him.

“and boasted Qu’ieu sai jogar sobre coisi (l.25) – and I know how to play on a cushion” (NB indefinite article not in the text.  This quotation is no evidence either for the Critic’s sexual interpretation. The Critic is unable to ascertain what the Poet is saying in l.25.


p.23 Comment on ll. 4-5:   “Guilhem like all ironists is mocking those who do not understand his irony, in this case all those who really believe his poem will be covinen and who will take the metaphor of the two horses literally.”

The Critic comes back to poem 1 whose lines 4-5 he finds convenient for his purposes: he deduces from them the division of the Poet’s audience into an “initiated” and an “uninitiated” section, a point on which he then dwells on the following pages. On p.20 he writes about the “audience’s gradual realisation”, but on second thought does not give much credit to the audience’s ability to understand this simple kind of humour.

On p.20 he writes “If this poem is ironic” – three pages further, p.23, discussing lines  4-5 of the same poem, he calls Guilhem IX definitely an “ironist” revelling in “his irony”, as if repetition of the word makes the Critiic’s idea more acceptable. He wilfully imposes his idea of irony on these two lines which, of course, remain obscure.


pp.23-24 His comments on poem 6 are on the same lines as the previously discussed examples.


p.26 “In Guilhem IX’s poetry, it is clear how crucial a knowledge of his social environment and his own cultural references is, not only to a reconstruction of his intentions and consequently to the perception of irony in certain poems, but also to the understanding of his poetry as a whole. At the most basic level, the force of the riding metaphors in Companho farai un vers would be considerably weakened, if we knew nothing of the aristocratic and chivalric society in which Guilhem lived.”

How can the Critic’s claim concerning the importance of the context be “clear” “in Guilhem’s poetry” ? Does he mean to say that failing to understand this poetry he has recourse to the context ?

How can he deal with poetry of authors whose lives are unknown ?

Any statement involving the context, that is, an extra-extual source, cannot be verified in the text.

The “riding metaphor”, which the Critc probably understands as representing the sex act, was not invented by Guilhem IX. Why should its “force” be “weakened” if considered in the text alone ?


p.27 Comment on 9.25-30: “Of course, the lady does not really have these powers and if the poem were humorous, bringing together opposites in this way might indicate irony. However, there are no grounds for suspecting irony here.

Why does the Critic quote a text which according to him is free from irony ?

What is the point of the hypothesis “if the poem were…” ?

As for the content of these lines, the Critic makes a declaration ex cathedra, dispensing with any attempt to justify it in the text or to seek the meaning the Poet has given it. Instead he decides for the Poet: “opposites are brought together to illustrate the extent of the lady’s power over Guilhem.”

The men referred to in these six lines are none other than the Poet himself, according to the Critic.

All of this pure assertion, product of the Critic’s fantasy.

“Formal qualities that might elsewhere indicate irony are here embellishment.”

Having mentioned twice in three lines “opposites” that are “brought together”, the Critic chooses a different term for the same thing and for a change, “formal qualities”, in the fourth line, with a view to repeating what he has already said four lines earlier, namely that there might be irony, but that there is none here, but “embellishment” instead. By means of this procedure the Critic fills nearly half a page.


pp.27-29 Comment on poem ‘:  “A poem which may be ironic…”, “…the type of irony used in

Farai un vers de dreit nien”.

Is the Critic certain about the presence of irony or not ?

His final statement about this poem: “Guilhem’s Farai un vers de dreit nien may have been intended as more than a joke, but it would seem unlikely that in this poem he is making a positive statement about anything.”

The Critic’s extremely guarded statement reveals that his research has not yielded any results at all. He considers nevertheless for the purposes of his book that the poem is possibly a “joke”  and just as possibly “more” than that, while ignoring all the difficulties of the text. This is followed by another stab in the dark hypothetically worded concerning the absence of a “positive statement about anything”. The reader is left wondering.


p.59 Marcabru

“If this interpretation is correct, and I believe it is”, “it is fair to say”, “it is difficult to gauge accurately…but it is perhaps fair to conjecture that there would have been”, “As Marcabru’s poetry probably contains…, it is not hard to suspect”, “it is perhaps difficult to understand”

In the face of these uncertainties the question arises: what results can the Critic actually produce ? In this context, cf. also quotes from Paterson, p.56.

These uncertainties, however, become the basis for statements of fact in the indicative, a phenomenon characteristic of this and other books on Troubadour poetry.


p.60 “Whilst there can be no doubt that…, it is difficult not to wonder”, “It is my impression that…”

The reader is not interested in the Critic’s feelings of “doubt” or others, nor in his “impression” – he is interested in the poem whose meaning must be explained on the basis of logical argument, so that everyone can follow.


p.80 Bernart Marti

The Critic takes from Hoepffner the idea of Bernart Marti’s “sourire amusé”, as though this were a philologically safe basis, and sets out to look for the irony it promises. He has indeed no problem “showing”, with the help of his own paraphrase, that it exists. Another critic could have “shown” as easily that it does not, the obscurity of the poems being such (cf. the translations proposed) that anything or nothing can be “shown”. The Critic recognises “many textual problems”, but “believes” “there is sufficient basis for the interpretations which follow” – the reader’s good will permitting in the absence of phiolologically valid statements.


p.96 He ends his chapter on Bernart Marti with a question from another critic who also “believes” that the Poet was only an amateur producing “clumsily obscure” works, followed by a speculation, as his own contribution and which does not help the reader, to the effect that “It is equally possible” the Poet was “more sophisticated” than that.


p.121 Raimbaut d’Aurenga

As far as the accessibility of this poet is concerned, cf. Jeanroy’s statement “les trois quarts au moins de ses vers sont pour nous lettre morte” (3) and Pattison’s translations, for example 4.1-16 : “After my vers I wish immediately to weave a simple, playful chanson in similar subtle rhyme: may I never have the habit of the turtle dove, if my lady abandons me or scorns me, so that I do not comfort myself as best I can.”

Any unprejudiced reader will be puzzled as to the meaning of these lines. Not so the Critic who is fortunate in that he can see the pervading irony – on the basis of his personal methodology.


p.134 The Critic attributes to Raimbaut d’Aurenga in a sweeping statement an “unfailing sense of humour”. The only evidence offered for this, in a footnote, are references to other scholars’ works.


p.136-138 Comments on the translation of poem 8 as supplied by the Critic :

l.1   definite article not present in the text

l.4   indefinite article un’ omitted

ira translated as “sorrow” which is not justifiable linguistically (cf. my paper on i / ira), its true meaning being “anger”, the Critic’s choice of “sorrow” is based on the preconception of “courtly love” (see below).

l.9   cella wrongly translated as “the lady”

l.10  aitan not accounted for

l.11  embrugitz inadequately rendered by “heard”.

The word derives from bruch with several meanings, including “querelle” (PD).

On what grounds does the Critic assume that Raimbaut d’Aurenga, known as a liguistic innovator (cf. Pattison), does not attach embrugitz to this latter meaning and/or to “noise” in the physical sense ?

The Critic’s choice of words for the translation is dictated by the preconception of “courtly love” – cf. p.33 where “courtly” appears six times, thus testifying to the Critic’s preoccupation, qualifying “code, consensus, vocabulary, love, canso, poet” – , a neatly defined term, even if it does not occur in Troubadour poetry, which is applied by hook or by crook to obscure poetic works which, of course, remain unelucidated!

Ambiguity of words and absence of punctuation in medieval manuscripts make it possible to produce an altogether different translation to the one given by the Critic, for example stanza 2 of poem 8:

My singing was certainly appreciated and well-received. I lose her who has me in displeasure. I hide myself so much that I would become engaged in quarrel in many a good place. Provided I shall be lord (no,n accusative of en, the honorific title).

This translation has the disadvantage of being obscure and of not fitting into the “courtly” preconception.

According to the Critic’s version, judging by the shortness of his summary comment on this stanza and the next -”his lady no longer favours him”  – , the two stanzas concerned, 2 and 3, have virtually no content, a daring suggestion given the many obscurities !

l.13  Tristz e marritz

Apparently tautological phrase, so translated by the Critic (“sadly and woefully”) who thus reduces this line to blunt insignificance. However, there is a sharp acoustic impression produced by twice ri + dentals which does not square with the Poet’s supposedly weak and passive frame of mind. Both adjectives also have the meaning “méchant” which cannot be reconciled with the meekly suffering lover of “amour courtois”.

l.23   merces

translated as “mercy” which makes no sense in terms of “courtly love”.

The Poet is, according to the Critic, in no position to offer “mercy” to the lady.

Cf. l.51 where he asks her for merce.

Do the lovers mutually ask for “mercy”? If so, the Critic remains mute on the subject

l.28   n’ – unaccounted for

possible translation: “she embraces me with it/her/him”, to be elucidated.

l.30   Critic’s “else” not in text.

l.32   Critic adds “oh” to the text, thus introducing an air of non-existent desperation.

bona dompna, a positive address followed by good qualities she has, even if the reader does not understand this immediately.

l.47   cervitz = “back of the neck” or part of female genitals “neck of the womb”, cer vitz -”stag penis”,  surprising the Critic does not see this very obvious possibility for deconstruction which makes utter sense in the context of love-poetry.

Subject of the line is “anyone”, not “any man” as claimed by the Critic.

Text and translation of this poem 8 cover two pages. Three quarters of a page are  in addition allotted to summary comment, mainly paraphrase as the Critic understands it.

The whole point of the exercise is, of course, to find “irony”. The Critic is satisfied there is:


p.137 “Thus far (up to stanza 7) the poem might appear superficially a non-ironic love song; however, in the final stanza there is an admission which can only have been intended to surprise, and which modifies the implications of the main body of the poem. Raimbaut has been talking about his wife all along!”

However, there is no “admission” of any kind in stanza 8, but a general statement (ll.47-48) whose content is far from clear.

The idea that Raimbaut d’Aurenga is “addressing a love song to his wife” is the Critic’s own, put forward without a scrap of supporting evidence. However, the Critic believes in the power of repetition and says a few lines later: “Raimbaut’s admission that his song is addressed to his wife is startling and undermines the sincerity of the whole poem.”

There is no “admission” and there is no “undermining of the sincerity” of a poem not within the Critic’s reach.

Yet, irony there must be, this is in the Critic’s interest, even if he expresses himself hypothetically:


p.137 “There may also be some textual elements which a performer could have exploited…: the surprise effect of the final lines would…have been much greater if the performer played on textual ironies rather than indicating irony through physical means.”

Question : Is the poem ironic or the envisaged performer or both ?

“The opening stanza may be ironic…” The reader never learns anything else about this stanza.


p.138 The Critic takes up once more his idea of the wife being addressed, using repetition in lieu of argument and elaborating according to his imagination, also using a Provençal term “fin’ amador” (with apostrophe) where the subject case is indicated.

Having spent thirteen lines on this, he sums up in the next paragraph : “but this pose (that of the supposed “submissive courtly lover”) is undermined by the fact (sic!) that he is singing to his wife.”

If the solution was so obvious, does the Critic really not think that it would have been found a long time ago ?

To conclude, he makes a sweeping statement about the Poet : “he enjoys playing the fool and undermining the seriousness of virtually any subject”.

This is not philology, but slander.

Last sentence of the book: “The troubadours’ irony is a reflection of their playful and lively spirits: I hope I have succeeded in conveying this.”

The Critic has certainly made it clear how he wants the Poets for the purposes of his book.



1   E.R.Curtius, Europaeische Literatur und Lateinisches Mittelalter, p.10, Bern 1948

2   Obscurities in poem 1:

In lines 1-5 the Poet announces that he is composing a vers about love.

In line 6 he introduces the idea, apparently unconnected, of giving up love.

In which way is l.6 related to the preceding lines ?

In ll.8-9 the Poet speaks about two horses both of which he cannot retain.

In ll. 17-18 his choice is made.

In ll.22-24 he asks for help with the choice he has to make.

How can these statements be reconciled ?

How is the last stanza, where he professes involvement with two women, related to the

preceding ones ?

What sort of a ‘contract’ is the one mentioned in l.20 ?

Who is senhor in l.19 ? There is no evidence that ‘husband’ is meant

3  A. Jeanroy, La Poésie lyrique des Troubadours, p.44, Toulouse – Paris 1934


2. Joern Gruber           Die Dialektik des Trobar

                                       Untersuchungen zur Struktur und Entwicklung des occitanischen und franzoesischen Minnesangs des 

                                       12. Jahrhunderts Beihefte zur Zeitschrift fuer Romanische Philologie, Band 194 Tuebingen 1983

 Examination of the methodology used

This ‘seminal work’ (Gaunt), written for a select circle, judging by its language – even the educated reader must be prepared to use his Fremdwoerterbuch – is concerned, as the subtitle indicates, with the study of trobar in Occitan and French love poetry, the Author stating in his foreword, p.IX, that the “sogenannten Trouvères” (the so-called trouvères) are the “Troubadors der langue d’oil (the troubadours of the langue d’oil). He considers there is no difference between Troubadors and Trouvères, the criterion being that both create words and music. He deals with both groups pêle-mêle. On p.109 he discusses the “franzoesischen Trobador” (the French troubadour) Gilles de Viés-Maisons

Also in his foreword, p.XII :  “Da sich die vorliegenden Studien nicht nur an die kleine Elite der ‘Verstehenden’ wenden, sondern auch einem breiteren Publikum zugaenglich sein sollen, vermeide ich bewusst, meinen Stil mimetisch an den Gegenstand anzupassen, d.h. nur fuer Eingeweihte verstaendlich zu sein, so wie die anspruchsvollsten Trobadors nur fuer wenige Auserwaehlte verstaendlich waren.”

Translation : “The present studies do not only want to address the small elite of ‘those who understand’, but want to be accessible also for a wider public. Therefore I consciously avoid mimicking the subject matter, that is, be comprehensible only for the initiated in the way the most demanding troubadours were comprehensible only for a few select.”

Analysis and comment

The Critic considers himself and a small circle as an elite, those who understand, comparable to the select few who were able to understand the most difficult Troubadour poetry. His books is addressed to this elite.

In addition and in contrast to the Troubadours, he wants his studies to be easily understood and thus to be accessible to a public apart from the elite.

He therefore refuses to mimic, although he could if he wanted to, the subject matter by his own style of writing.

Definition  of his word “mimetisch” in the Fremdwoerterbuch, p.502, Mannheim/Leipzig/Wien/Zuerich 1990, subsequently referred to as DFWB : mimetisch von mimesis = in der antiken Rhetorik spottende Wiederholung der Rede eines anderen – “mimetic from mimesis = in classical rhetoric, mocking of another person’s speech”.

Instead of introducing his project in an understandable way, the Critic makes it known that he understands anyway. He patronises those who, according to him, do not understand and uses a foreign word, mimetisch, which may be indicative – lapsus linguae or not – of his attitude towards his subject.

The following sentence runs : “Der Sorge um Allgemeinverstaendlichkeit entspricht auch die Praesentation der mittelalterlichen Texte: diese werden, soweit ihre Bedeutung fuer den Argumentationszusammenhang relevant ist, mit einer philologisch exakten Uebersetzung versehen.”

Translation : “The presentation of the medieval texts takes into account the Critic’s concern to be readily understood: they are accompanied, where their meaning is relevant to the context of the argument, by a philologically exact translation.”

Comment : The colon leads the reader to expect specification concerning the presentation, subject of the preceding sentence. However, this is not so. Instead, the Critic introduces a different point, that of translation. He will translate the texts in accordance with their relevance to his argument. It can be expected that obscure texts, and most Troubadour texts are, will be made to fit (cf. below).


p.62 Title of chapter : Versuch einer metahermeneutischen Applikation

A tentative metahermeneutic application

1.3.1 Modell: Guilhem de Peitieu P-C 183, 11 s

“Der ‘Vers’ Pus vezem de novelh florir (P-C 183, 11 s) ist die aelteste höfische Ars Amandi, die auf uns gekommen ist; in ihr handelt Guilhem de Peitieu im Anschluss an einen Natureingang, in dem er das Fruehlingserwachen als Anlass des joi wertet (s.u. 1.3.2.), von der Dialektik (st.2-4) und den Geboten (5-6) der vollkommenen Minne (fin’ amor). In der Conclusio (7) macht er den ‘Vers’ selbst zum Gegenstand der Aussage, wobei er zunaechst die Interdependenz von Wert (valor) und Verstaendnis (entendimen) hervorhebt (1-2), um sodann die Ebenmaessigkeit der Worte zu betonen (3-4) und die Vortrefflichkeit und den Wert des Tons zu loben (5-6).”

Translation :  “The ‘verse’ Pus vezem de novelh florir… is the oldest courtly Ars Amandi handed down to us: in it, following a Spring opening where he addresses the wakening of Spring as the cause of joi, Guilhem de Peitieu deals with the dialectic (st. 2-4) and the commands (5-6) of perfect love (fin’ amor). In the conclusio (7) he takes the ‘verse’ itself as the object of his statement, stressing first of all the interdependence of worth (valor) (ll.1-2) and understanding (entendimen), then emphasising the even build of the words (ll.3-4) and praising the excellence and the value of the tone (ll.5-6).”

Comment :  The Critic uses the German word ‘Vers’ – meanings: line of a poem; stanza; insignificant little poem) – in quotation marks to render the Provençal vers. What does he mean ?

He gives a summary of the content of the poem, specifying that stanzas 2-4 dealo with what he calls “dialectic” of perfect love. Without considering the obscurities of these stanzas he makes a sweeping statement about them, based on an extra-textual source, the doctrine of “courtly love” (equalled with fin’ amor) into which he has already fitted the poem prior to any detailed examination.

From the outset, even before having started an investigation, he knows what the poem is about, on the basis, not of the text, but of the preconception of “courtly love” which is clearly defined and fully known, thus following uncritically and without saying anything new large sections of the scholarly body.

Referring to ll.37-38  Del vers vos dig que mais en vau

Qui ben l’enten e n’a plus lau

the Critic deduces nouns, in German, from the verbs vau and enten, giving in brackets their supposed equivalent in Provençal – as if the reader did not know – thus conveying the impression that the German noun covers the whole meaning of the Provençal words. He thus imposes almost unnoticed a single meaning, the one that fits into “courtly love”, on these words.

His understanding of stanza 7 is characterised by unargued statements and the use of different German verbs with the same meaning. He has nothing to say and therefore repeats and paraphrases.

 p.63 He then prints st.7 and provides what he calls a “wortgetreue” (literal) translation:

37  “Von dem ‘Vers’ sage ich euch, dass er dann mehr wert ist,

38   wenn man ihn recht versteht und (dass) er dann mehr Lob erhaelt,

39   denn die Worte sind alle gleichmaessig gemacht

40   gemeinsam,

41   und der Ton ist, ich selbst lobe mich dessen (seiner)

42   gut (vortrefflich) und wertvoll.

Comment :

37  two possibilities for subject of second hemistich: vers or ‘he who’ (in conjunction with qui in following line).  en unaccounted for by the Critic.  ‘dann’ not in text.

38  several possibilities for interpretation of qui, cf. Jensen, Syntax of Medieval Occitan, Beih. Zeitschrift fRPh Band 208 TU 1985, pp. 155ff. :

–      normal relative pronoun ‘he who’ (subject of this line and preceding hemistich),

–      in the case of vers as subject, qui can be considered as having a dative function (cui), Jensen translates this line, p.155: ‘to the person who understands it well’,

–     qui = si quis – ‘if someone’. This is presumably the basis for the Critic’s version.

However, his ‘wenn’ (meaning ‘when’ or ‘if’) has a temporal rather than a conditional value because of the twice added ‘dann’ (then). This rules out his translation which is also unacceptable on the grounds of logic: the quality of the vers, which was composed by the Poet and subsequently presented to an audience, is independent of the reception it receives. It takes its quality, or worth, from the Poet alone.

39  Meaning of per egau not certain. The Critic opts for ‘gleichmaessig’ which is no worse a guess than Bond’s ‘in equal groups’. The meaning of this term remains obscure. The Critic does not say what it is that is ‘gleichmaessig’. He also uses the term ‘Ebenmaessigkeit der Worte’ (even build of words), p.63 top, without clarification.

40  The same is true of ‘gemeinsam’ which renders cominalmens in the Critic’s version. The word implies activity involving at least two agents. In his subsequent comment the Critic does not elucidate this point.

41  manipulation of manuscript reading: the Critic arbitrarily introduces a verb ‘e.l sons es… bos...’ (cf. p.63). There are a number of structurally incomplete enunciations in the works of the early Troubadours, not for inability…

42  bos = ‘gut’, not ‘vortrefflich’ (outstanding, excellent) which is given in brackets in addition. According to the Critic this poem is an ‘Ars Amandi’ dealing with ‘courtly love’, a clearly defined term including the notion of perfection for which the simple ‘gut’, it seems, is not good enough, even if it is for the Poet. Cf. p.73 where the Critic renders bon as ‘edel’ (noble).

p.64-67 The Critic then makes four pages of editorial comment, two of which (65-66) are devoted to tortuous attempts at justification concerning his manipulation of l.41 in the manuscript, including all manner of hypotheses put forward with the concomitant uncertainty, for example p.66:

“Pausibler erscheint mir (it seems more plausible to me); gemaess der Hypothese, die meiner Konjektur zugrunde liegt (according to the hypothesis on which my conjecture is based); wobei offen bleiben muss, ob… (one cannot be sure whether); das Original… duerfte…etwa die folgende Form besessen haben (the original might have had approximately the following form).

All these uncertainties do not prevent him from making his ‘conjecture’ the basis for his discussion. His final excuse is that ‘the critical interventions do not produce a change in the sense’. If this is so, what is all the fuss about ?

This leads to the ‘Exegese’ from which the clarification of textual obscurities would be expected.

However, he spends four pages defending, with the help of speculation and extrapolation, his choice of subject for ll.37-38 as the only possible one, which makes no difference to the fact that a second possibility exists. He then decides for the Poet what the Poet wants:

“Guilhem moechte das Votum der Mehrheit seiner Zuhoerer gewinnen” (Guilhem wants to win the acclaim of the majority of his listeners). Where is this in the text ?

As to the meaning of ll.39-40, he claims this to be a reference to the “ethische und aesthetische Vollkommenheit der Worte” (the ethical and esthetical perfection of the words) and repeats his translation, as though this strengthened his case : “die alle gemeinsam gleichmaessig gemacht sind…mit einem Wort: hoefisch (courtly)”.

This ‘exegesis’ may be in accordance with the concept of ‘courtly love’. However, where is the evidence for that in the text ?

p.74 Final paragraph of this chapter:

“Das Gesamturteil aber ueberlaesst er (Guilhem IX) den Verstehenden, die er indirekt auffordert, erst dann die Wertung vorzunehmen, wenn sie ein rechtes Verstaendnis erlangt haben…nur derjenige kann die wahre Bedeutung des ‘Vers’ verstehen, seinen Sinn und Wert, der ihn in angemessener Weise aktualisiert.”

Translation:  “He (Guilhem IX) leaves the overall judgment to those who understand, inviting them indirectly to proceed to an assessment only after having reached a proper understanding…only he can understand the true meaning of the ‘verse’, its sense and worth, who actualizes it in the appropriate way.”

Comment:  It seems that ‘those who understand’ do not do so immediately, according to the Critic, not the text. Where is the ‘direct invitation’ ?

The ‘proper understanding’ presumably means realisation that these lines are about the tenets of ‘courtly love’, according to the Critic, not the Poet.

According to the Critic, the Poet expects the listener who wants to understand to do something with the poem: ‘actualize’ it.

What is the meaning of ‘aktualisieren’?  DFWB ‘etwas aktuell machen, beleben, auf den neuesten Stand bringen’ (bring something to generell attention, revive, bring up-to-date).

It is not possible to know what the Critic means with this favourite word of his, which does not matter because in any case there is no evidence in the text that Guilhem IX actually had such expectations.


to preconceive – conceive beforehand (OED)

1.  The presence of the preconception of ‘courtly love’ has been shown.

2.  Another preconception is the subject of the book, “Dialektik” etc.:

The Critic wants to confirm his idea that each Troubadour “outdoes” his predecessors (cf. summary by Gaunt, p.2, who refers to Gruber’s pp.98-101 and 254). How he does this, is illustrated by the following example :

p.96 Poem P-C 70, 15 by Bernart de Ventadorn Chantars non pot gaires valer.

The Critic provides an ‘exegesis’ of ll.50-52 Lo vers es fis e naturaus

E bos celui qui be l’enten

E melher es qui.l joy aten.

“…Bernart behauptet somit von seinem ‘Vers’, er sei fuer den Hoerer…bons. Dabei gibt er durch das integrale Zitat eines Halbverses Guilhem’s de Peitieu, der in umgekehrter Position erscheint (Guilhem erster Halbvers, Bernart zweiter Halbvers) zu verstehen, dass er nicht nur die ‘Vers’ (correct: Verse) seiner Vorgaenger ueberbietet, sondern zugleich das Verfahren des Umschmiedens poetischer Vorlagen, das bereits ihren Texten zugrunde liegt.”

Translation: “ … Bernart thus claims that his ‘verse’ is …good for the listener. In doing this he gives to understand, by means of an integral quotation of a half-line by Guilhem de Peitieu, which appears in inverted position (Guilhem first half-line, Bernart second half-line) that he not only outdoes the ‘verse’ (plural required: verses) of his predecessors, but at the same time the process of the reforging of poetic models on which their texts are based.”

Comment:  The Critic gets into trouble with his rendering of vers: he uses a German word (capital V) whose graphy coincides with the Provençal. In the present case he needs a plural which would, however, be inappropriately expressed by the concrete German term of limited meaning. He therefore uses the Provençal plural (identical with the singular) while maintaining the capital V of the German word without letting it have the required plural –e at the end. A combination of German and Provençal – in aid what of ?

Cf. also the next paragraph where the genitive, ‘Verses’, should be used for correct German. Identical case, p.74.

The first sentence of the quoted passage states the obvious.

Bernarts de Ventadorn allegedly states by implication that he ‘outdoes’ his predecessors with respect to their ‘verses’ and to the ‘reforging’ of models on which they are supposed to be based.  However, this is not a philological demonstration, but a series of unfounded statements made in the interest of this book.

Immediately following paragraph :

“Das eigentliche Superamentum aber findet sich in dem Schlussvers der Tornada: der Wert des ‘Vers(es)’ Bernarts de Ventadorn haengt nicht nur von dem rechten Verstaendnis der rechten Reproduktion ab, sondern darueber hinaus von der rechten Applikation auf die ‘existentielle’ Einstellung des Aufnehmenden: fuer denjenigen, der die Botschaft nicht nur versteht, sondern von ihr Freude erwartet, ist der ‘Vers’ mehr als die Summe der Vorlagen, die in ihm aufgehoben und durch ihn uebertroffen werden.”

Translation:  “However, the real superamentum is found in the final verse of the tornada: the value of the ‘verse’ of Bernart de Ventadorn does not only depend on the right understanding, the right reproduction, but beyond this on the right application to the ‘existential’ attitude of the recipient: for him who not only understands the message, but expects joy from it, the ‘verse’ is more then the sum of the models which are sublated (Gaunt’s term) in it and outdone by it.

Comment:  The Critic uses the word Freude as if it were the exact rendering of joy.

Using the latinizing word Superamentum, which presumably refers to the alleged quality of ‘outdoing’, the Critic offers his final proof allegedly contained in the last line of the tornada E.l melher es qui.l joy aten, in a rambling sentence with two colons, boiling down to a repeated and pure assertion. The Critic is not interested in elucidating the meaning of the lines in question – he dispenses with textual analysis -, but in imposing his personal preconception on them.

  1.  There would appear to be a third preconception suggested by the Critic’s language which is characterised by terms taken from the ecclesiastical vocabulary, for example

p.64  “…Jeanroy, dessen Text bis 1973 die Vulgata darstellte”. Why not ‘Bible’ ?

p.10  “ketzerische Behauptung” (heretical affirmation) Critic could have used a less fraught word to express the idea of deviation and thus save himself the quotation marks.

p.96 and passim  Exegese – ‘interpretation of the Scriptures’ (OED) Latin terms, reminiscent of liturgical formulae, used passim :

p.65  Lectio interposita

p.66 Codex interpositus

p.67 Lectio singularis

p.167 Communis opinio


The Critic does not hide his sympathy for the doctrine of the Virgion Mary, for example p.IX : reference to the topic of the alleged ‘trobador’ Alfons the Sage of Spain, Santa Maria, as if this author was representative of Troubadour poetry.

While the Critic is perfectly entitled to his personal convictions, it is worrying that he allows them to transpire into a work of theoretically impartial investigation. He must be suspected of approaching Troubadour poetry and its central theme, love, with the eyes of the Church, that is, of projecting ecclesiastical views into the works instead of elucidating the meaninggiven by the Poets.


‘groundless assumption’ (OED)

The book abounds in hypotheses serving as a basis for arguments (cf. comments on his pages 64-67 above) or constituting results achieved. In many cases the Critic takes care to declare his hypotheses. In some it is left to the reader to identify them.


p.66 bottom to p.67

Continuation of the text quoted on the preceding page :  “Was aber ist diese ‘Freudenbotschaft’, die Bernart in seinem Lied verkuendet, betrifft sie die weibliche Minne oder die religioes ueberhoehte Minne, die Marcabru, Cercamon und Jaufre Rudel in ihren von Berrnart aufgehobenen ‘Vers’ (pl. ending missing) moeglicherweise besingen? – Fuer die letztere Hypothese spricht die Schlusscobla unseres ‘Vers’(genitive ending missing), die eine Spiritualdeutung geradezu herausfordert.”

Translation:  “But what is this ‘message of joy’ announced by Bernart in his song, does it concern worldly love or the higher form of religious love which is possibly sung by Marcabru, Cercamon and Jaufre Rudel in ‘verse’(s) sublated by Bernart? – The concluding cobla which virtually prompts a spiritual interpretation speaks in favour of the latter hypothesis.”


‘Freudenbotschaft’. Again German ‘Freude’ equalled with joi.

The Critic’s theory of ‘sublation’ is taken as proven (cf. quotations under Preconceptions on preceding page) and referred to in a statement of fact (indicative).

The Critic introduces two hypotheses of which he chooses the one that appeals to him, supported by a reference to three early Troubadours who ‘possibly’ dealt with this kind of love and by two words, nadaus, esperitaus, taken out of a lengthy quotation and translation here not given, when it would have been enough to quote the two lines containing the needed ‘evidence’.

The next step is taken in the following paragraph which presents the outcome of his speculations as a question :

“Ist es zu kuehn, anzunehmen, dass Bernart hier…von der Jungfrau Maria spricht…auf die sich moeglicherweise bereits die antic trobador beziehen? Die Anspielung auf Weihnachten und die kaum misszuverstehende Wendung ‘geistliche Augen’ legen diese Annahme zumindest nahe.”

Translation:  “Is it too bold to assume that Bernart here…speaks of the Virgin Mary…to whom possibly already the antic trobador refer? The allusion to Christmas and the term ‘spiritual eyes’, which can hardly be misunderstood, at least suggest this.”

Comment:  This kind of suggested ‘interpretation’, in reality unrelated to the object of the investigation because taken from outside it and tentatively (!) foisted upon the poem, has nothing to do with philology as stipulated by E.R.Curtius (cf. p.2 here).

Further examples of hypothesis :

p.190   note 154: “Beweisen laesst sich diese Hypothese… nicht.” This hypothesis (put forward by the Critic) cannot be proved.

p.141  “Die Adaequatheit meiner Hypothese vorausgesetzt” provided my hypothesis is adequate “weniger wahrscheinlich ist die alternative Hypothese” the alternative hypothesis is less probable

p.145  “Die folgende Rekonstruktion…hat hypothetischen Charakter; die eindeutigen…Analogien verleihen der Hypothese indes ein hohes Mass an Plausibilitaet.” The following reconstruction is of a hypothetic nature; the clear analogies, however, convey to the hypothesis a high measure of plausibility.

p.142  “fuer die vorgetragene Interpretation spricht lediglich ihre Plausibilitaet; beweisen laesst sie sich nicht” the interpretation proposed can only be upheld on the grounds of plausibility; it cannot be proved.


Conditional statements are equally frequent, for example

p.98  “Geht man davon aus, dass…”

Provided one accepts that…

“Wenn dem aber so ist,…”

If, however, this is so…

In general and throughout the book the use of the German language is characterised by tortuous prolixity, words for words’ rather than information’s sake. The Critic does not, of course, give any philologically valid information on the subject he is supposed to be investigating. He might as well have written a novel.



Linda M. Paterson            Troubadours and Eloquence ; Oxford 1975

Analysis of Introduction and Chapter 1 (excluding Dante and translations)

The first word of the book is ‘Dante’, which comes as a surprise considering that certain Troubadours are professed to be the object of the investigation. In the first paragraph, eleven lines, page 1, this name occurs no less than four times and twice again on page 5. References to him and his work De Vulgari Eloquentia are numerous throughout the book. The Critic makes her own use of this poet as will be shown.

The word eloquence in the title is taken from the title of Dante’s work. It is the English equivalent of ‘eloquentia’. Can one conclude that the book is inspired by Dante ? Do the Latin and the English word mean the same ?

Quote p.1  “The purpose of this book is to investigate the vernacular ‘eloquence’ of certain major twelfth-century troubadours: of these some were specifically admired by Dante, while others contributed equally to this eloquence through the literary polemics of the classical and pre-classical period in the south(sic).”

Comment:  The Critic’s use of quotation marks is erratic in general; here ‘eloquence’ with or without in the same sentence.

The investigation covers two groups of Poets, one admired by Dante, the other one not. What is the relevance ?

What does the Critic in the absence of any specification mean by ‘this’ eloquence ?

All in all the reader learns that the purpose of the book is to investigate something called ‘eloquence’ in the texts of twelfth century Troubadours some of which were admired by Dante. Except for twelfth century, one could have deduced as much from the title.

In the above quotation ‘eloquence’ is related to ‘literary polemics’, but how ? It will emerge on the following pages that ‘literary polemics’ means ‘theoretical controversies’ about different ‘styles’ (p.5) and that ‘styles’ is the same as ‘eloquence’ or ‘eloquentia’ (p.3, 5) or ‘part of their eloquentia’ (p.3).

‘eloquence’, ‘eloquentia’, ‘r/Rhetoric’, ‘styles’ – the Critic leaves it to the reader’s imaginationwhat the difference is. The Critic uses them all pêle-mêle.

p.1, first sentence : “Dante praised the troubadours for their eloquence.” Then she asks: “What was their eloquentia?” and gives the answer “Dante placed it within the tradition of medieval Rhetoric”.

p.3  “It would be possible to take the different styles: trobar clus, leu, prim and so on (sic) as points of departure in considering this eloquentia.”

The only certainty in the Critic’s use of these words is that ‘eloquentia’ is used by Dante.

By using this word in a Troubadour context, does the Critic want to pay homage to Dante or does she want to mark the poetry even before any investigation with the seal of clerical schooling, surreptitiously linking it to the teachings of the Church, to ‘Christian exegesis’ (p.41), on which Dante, of course, is firmly based, and doing so in the absence of any philological proof ?

The Critic is not afraid of admitting to ‘linking’: p.6  “I have made a limited attempt to link the troubadours’ ideas with those of Rhetoric.”

Comment:  The use of Latin ‘eloquentia’ as opposed to the vernacular, language of the Troubadours, is consistent with such attempts.

What are ‘ideas of Rhetoric’ ???

The Critic’s language is imprecise: She cannot herself ‘link’ the texts to whatever she fancies – only the Poets can do this. She could at best demonstrate the existence of ‘links’ in the Poets’ texts, but is in no position to do so.

Does she find evidence for such ‘links’ in the texts? On p.35 she states: “Marcabru makes no attempt to link them (the images) with a tradition.” This does not prevent her from finding ‘links’ tacitly implied: p.35  “The audience would need no education to understand them.”  Why does the Critic bother to quote texts if she disregards what she finds anyway, in this case she finds no evidence expressed textually, but says the evidence is implied!

Judging by the book’s title, the reader would expect an investigation of ‘eloquence’. However, nowhere does the Critic actually give a definition.

She freely interchanges ‘eloquence, eloquentia, r/Rhetoric’ , although at times she seems to oppose ‘eloquence’ to ‘eloquentia’ :

p.4  “This is by no means to minimise his (Bernart de Ventadorn) considerable influence on the ‘eloquence’ of both southern and northern poets…

p.5  “He (Bernart de Ventadorn) appears to have shown no interest in eloquentia  and Dante ignores him…his eloquence is a ‘true’ trobar leu… Bernart seems turned towards the north…the others with their interest in eloquentia towards the south and the Italian poets.”

Observation :  Occurrence of ‘eloquence’ with quotes, eloquentia, eloquence

without quotes. What is the difference ???

The Critic claims absence of ‘eloquentia’, but presence of ‘eloquence’ for Bernart de Ventadorn… She grants him ‘eloquence’ in the ‘trobar leu’ way, one of her earlier mentioned ‘styles’, which for her means ‘easy’ (as opposed to the Supervisor at Reading University who said that half of Bernart de Ventadorn was obscure to him).

On the one hand she treats ‘eloquence’ and ‘eloquentia’ as synonyms, on the other they are not the same to the point of denying ‘eloquentia’ to the Poet.

In the absence of any logic the Critic is unable to communicate, even if she fills pages.

“Bernart seems turned towards the north…”

This statement, marked by uncertainty, is philologically worthless.

“…the others…towards the south and the Italian poets”.

How can they turn towards a place where they are already?

Who are the ‘Italian’ poets referred to in the twelfth century? Maybe the Critic is thinking of Dante to come.

p.3  “the distinction between trobar clus and trobar leu…is only a part of their eloquentia”

p.4  “these styles (“the trobar clus and other styles”) are part of a wider background of


p.3  “the different styles: trobar clus, leu, prim and so on” to be taken as “points of

departure in considering this eloquentia”.

The Critic refers tirelessly again and again to the ‘different styles’ without ever saying more than their designations, sometimes linking them to ‘eloquentia’ by itself, sometimes to a ‘wider background of eloquentia’. What is the difference?

p.6/7  “major troubadours…attempted to shape a developing literature to their own

individual concepts of eloquence” ???

p.5  “When considering literary terminology one has to bear in mind that terms do not necessarily remain static, nor do they necessarily have a very precise sense for any one composer. Texts are also a limiting factor since manuscripts disagree…”

Comment:  The Critic provides her own carte blanche to say what she pleases while

pretending that all is clear. She takes cover behind generalisations.

She does not address the subject of her book in any logical, verifiable way.

Nothing in the entire book has anything to do with philology – in spite of

E.R.Curtius in her bibliography.


Investigation of eloquence, eloquentia, style, r/Rhetoric in Chapter 1 entitled:

“Marcabru: Eloquence and Meaning”

p.8 “Two aspects of Marcabru’s composition are essential to his concept of style: one is his view of eloquence, the other, of trobar naturau. The first is dualistic: he blames false eloquence, “la falsa razos daurada” (why quotation marks and not italics, as used by her, for this quotation in Provençal?) or “false gilded speech” (XXV.24); but as a poet he practises his own form of eloquence which he calls trobar naturau.”


The Critic feels the need to justify the title of the book: four occurrences of ‘eloquence’ in the title of the chapter and first two sentences.  Question: What is ‘eloquence’ on the one hand and trobar naturau on the other ?

In the introduction the reader gains the impression that ‘eloquence, eloquentia, r/Rhetoric, style’ are virtually interchangeable terms because meaning the same. However, in the passage quoted, ‘eloquence’ and trobar naturau are called two unconnected, independent ‘aspects of Marcabru’s composition’, ‘essential to his concept of style’: ‘his view of eloquence’ being one, his ‘view of trobar naturau’ being the other.

The Critic expands in the next sentence: ‘his view of eloquence’ is ‘dualistic’, which means that it embraces ‘false eloquence’ and his ‘own form of eloquence which he calls trobar naturau’. Thus, the second ‘aspect’ claimed to be ‘essential for his concept of style’, namely trobar naturau, comes after all under ‘eloquence’ in the case of Marcabru.

This does not prevent the Critic from heading the following two sub-chapters ‘1. Eloquence’, ‘2. “Trobar naturau” (why quotes in addition to italics?).

Not having given a definition of ‘eloquence/eloquentia’ and having taken the precaution of noting lack of precision on the part of the Poets (cf. quote p.5 on preceding page), the Critic feels free to call ‘eloquence’ whatever suits her. In the quoted passage she declares that Marcabru blames ‘false eloquence’ by blaming ‘false speech’, ‘eloquence’ has thus become a synonym of language.

The Critic’s imprecise handling of language has been noted before.


The same Marcabru quotation appears on p.9: paraphrasing a text by the Poet, she writes: “He attacks not only fruitless boasting, but deceitful eloquence, “la falsa razos daurada”, using a different English adjective, ‘deceitful’, no doubt to ring the changes.



1.    Eloquence

 p.8  First sentence: “Marcabru’s view of eloquence is ostensibly negative”, which means according to the Critic’s preceding statement that his view of ‘language’ is negative.

Second sentence: “He condemns the false use of words…”

This time, ‘eloquence’ alone, without a qualifier, stands for the ‘false use of words’.

Is there a difference between ‘false speech’ and ‘false use of words’ ? If not, the Critic, instead of elucidating Troubadour poetry, does no more than repeat herself.

In the following line she invents a term ‘frait cuidar’ which she renders as ‘broken thinking’.

What is that ?

The alleged quotation is wrong: XIX.11 runs  A triar lo frait de l’entier – ‘to draw the broken from the whole’. What is the meaning of this line according to the Poet? A question which remains unanswered throughout the book.

In the same context ‘empty boasting’ is given as an example for the ‘false use of words’ which is ‘eloquence’. On the next page she writes: “He attacks not only fruitless boasting, but deceitful eloquence.”

Comment:  Yet another use of ‘eloquence’: ‘fruitless boasting’ is to be distinguyished from ‘deceitful eloquence’, while ‘empty boasting’ (p.8) was an illustration of ‘eloquence’.

The Critic is unable to think logically.

 p.10 “Behind his negative view of eloquence as glib, deceitful and corrupting, there lies, however, an implicit appreciation of true eloquence and a concern to apply this to his work…Marcabru is expertly versed in the science of eloquentia derived directly or indirectly from medieval Rhetoric. His very condemnation of eloquence may reflect this science.”

Comment:  The Critic does not produce any evidence for Marcabru’s ‘negative view of eloquence’, let alone say what ‘eloquence’ actually is.

She contrasts ‘negative view of eloquence’ with ‘true eloquence’ of which she alleges that it is present in Marcabru’s works implicitly, dispensing with any evidence for all her affirmations. ‘Eloquence’, bad in itself in Marcabru’s view, on the one hand, ‘true eloquence’, synonymous with ‘science of eloquentia’, on the other.

Lastly, ‘false language’ is ‘eloquence’ and condemned by Marcabru, according to the Critic.

Does Marcabru know that he condemns eloquence ?

On p.28 the Critic states: “Marcabru usually comments only on the misuse of eloquence.”

Does the Critic know what she is talking about ?

‘eloquentia derived directly or indirectly from medieval Rhetoric’ – a non-committal nonsense statement and the Critic clearly not trusting the reader’s understanding of her footnote 2, p.1 (q.v.).

On the pages that follow Critic gives irrelevant quotations from Augustine (p.11) and Cicero (p.12), unable to produce anything but surmise, even with three times ‘Rhetorical’ in one sentence:

“Marcabru’s specific knowledge of Rhetorical techniques can be seen in certain Rhetorical, especially dialectical vocabulary such as razo, argumens, esprovaire, lassar, entensa, through a striking use of Rhetorical methods to define and argue his ideas in the song ‘Per savi.l tenc’ (XXXVII), and above all in the gap ‘D’aisso lau dieu’ “.

Comment: Unfortunately the reader does not learn anything about Marcabru’s ‘ideas’, for more than paraphrase in accordance with the Critics possibilities is not offered.

All statements about Marcabru’s indebtedness to ‘Rhetoric’ are given as mere assumptions without the slightest evidence from the texts. For example she assigns different meanings to razo in different texts without justifying her choice (cf. pp.11-13).

She alleges a continuity of usage from ‘Rhetoric’ to the language of Provençal law and that of the Troubadours’ ‘debate poetry’ by quoting a number of convenient Latin and Provençal texts as evidence for influence undergone by the Poets.

However, different specialists may well use the same words of a language. Whether their meaning is the same has to be investigated, respectively proved in the texts.


The Critic’s uncertainty of expression

In the absence of evidence from the texts the Critic cannot, in theory, produce statements of fact, but has to use formulations which admit doubt. This is unsatisfactory and philologically worthless.

The Critic is aware of this and therefore does not hesitate to slide from probability or possibility as conceived by her to fact, a procedure characteristic of the whole book.


 p.12   “the meaning appears to have its origin”

p.14   “Marcabru’s use of the word at least suggests that he is here thinking in terms of Rhetoric.”

The uncertainty of this statement is compounded by the nebulous phrase ‘eloquence in terms of Rhetoric’ : what is ‘eloquence’ here and what is it ‘in terms of Rhetoric’ ?

p.15   “Rhetorical influence…may have been indirect.”

What are the implications of ‘indirect’? The Critic does not enlighten us. In any case, it is only offered as an unsupported possibility she envisages without committing

herself. The allegation that Marcabru had a ‘detailed knowledge of Rhetorical ideas’ (second part of the quoted sentence) is ‘supported’ by a clever rendering of the texts into English (cf. my comments on translation below) which cannot be called translations, but adaptations to suit the Critic’s preconceived ideas.

 p.16   “As Lewent says, Marcabru does not intend his works to be obscure…”

The Critic quotes a text by Marcabru and then another critic whose statement suits her well. No evidence from the text is offered to support her claim.

“Lewent and Moelk are probably right…” (footnote 5)

The Critic comments on other critics’ comment, not on the text!

She is cautious not to commit herself and therefore says ‘probably’.

“When Marcabru introduces the problem of ‘paraul’ escura’, he may well be thinking of the Rhetorical ‘causa obscura’ (same italics for Provençal and Latin).

But what if he is not ?

It is now clear why the Critic sides with Lewent in refusing to take paraul’ escura as a reference to trobar clus: supported by another critic she feels safe to introduce theterm in question into her ‘Rhetorical’ scheme. However, in the absence of any evidence she puts it as a possibility, ‘no evidence’ meaning ‘possibility’ in her language.The next step, a few lines on, is the casual sliding from possibility to fact: “This is what Marcabru does.” And : “Marcabru closely follows the basic pattern of ‘dispositio’ (italics) in classical Rhetoric…”

This statement renders the Critic’s wishful thinking.

 p.18-19   “While other songs of Marcabru also show indications of Rhetorical ‘dispositio’, this one is remarkable because the ideas in it are so clearly arranged in this way,and because the Rhetorical structure coincides with an especially strong concern to clarify, define, and argue his ideas on love. It confirms that Marcabru knew how to use Rhetorical techniques for his own purposes.”

Comment:   The Critic, whose style leaves to be desired, quotes fourteen lines of Marcabru text, not in order to investigate their obscure meaning, but to force them, if she can, into a pattern of Latin rhetoric. In passing she grants the Poet a ‘strong concern…’ to do what she thinks he does, using three English verbs of more or less the same meaning. This then is her ‘evidence’.

p.19 to p.54  She then discusses the gap without reference to the text by quoting a number of scholars, especially Roncaglia, before printing and translating it for the sake of ‘a number of Rhetorical terms whose significance has not been recognised’. Is the Critic here finally onto something ‘new’ ? Her findings, apart from pure paraphrase (according to her understanding) are the following:

Plait can mean…” ,  “Razo has the Rhetorical sense…” (what is its sense in the poem?),

Definir can have the specific meaning…”,  “A lutz issir can mean either…or…”,  “Marcabru blames those who…or perhaps…”,  “The gignos sens can mean…”, “ Gignos can mean either…or…”,  “If gignos is taken in the sense of…, then Marcabru is explaining…”,  “The rest of the gap can be seen…”,  “…the imagery could mean…”,  “Roncaglia suggested that the estoc breto might have…”,  “the imagery of fighting or fencing may be equivalent to arma eloquentia…”,  “Whether or not pens can mean ‘spikes’…”,  “He is full of cent colors per mieills chauzir…but also Rhetorical ‘colours’ “ (because the Poet uses the word colors which happens to occur in ‘Rhetoric’!),  “Sens in v.49 could have a similar sense…”,  “Marcabru appears to be saying…”,  “R. Lejeune suggested…”,  “Perhaps Marcabru means…”,  “possibly other layers of meaning can also be intended”,  “the fool’s bread could perhaps be…”,  “he may be describing…”,  “the last lines…may have a figurative meaning”,  “Perhaps the vivid colours of the jay suggested this image…”,  “possibly Marcabru links in his mind the sin of pride with…” (is there a link in the poem ?)”,    “the rana may be an image of…”,  “But it is not hard to see how his recognition…might…develop…”,  “”it may perhaps be inferred that”,  “Perhaps he plays on the meaning of…both can mean…perhaps indicating the urgent desire…”,  “the poet may judge…”,  “possibly devinalh, devinalha, imply some ambiguity…”,  “he may be playing on the meanings…may be derived from the Latin…Perhaps Marcabru is referring to…”,  “Lewent suggested that caire might be a piece of…but Pollmann thinks that…”,   “the difficulty here seems to be…”,  “but the word is probably also meant in a sexual sense…”,  “Coa. ‘tail’ could mean ‘remainder’…but it may also have a sexual sense”,  “It cannot be said for certain that…”,  “He may also be protesting against…”,  “This is, perhaps…” .

There are many more examples throughout the book.


Argumentation by speculation in the absence of any hard and fast results. In spite of her many words the reader has learnt nothing about the Troubadours. She has the models of her predecessors, for example p.31:

“Roncaglia stresses the importance of examining Marcabru’s poetic language in the tradition of moralistic-religious symbolism elaborated in the Middle Ages, especially through biblical exegesis.”

This then is her subject and not the texts of the Troubadours, whose obscurity defies her.

Nonsense statements abound, like for example p.28:

“The terms in this gap…point to a coherent theme of Marcabru’s skill in Rhetorical debate.”

What does she state ?

The notion ‘theme’ appertains to a work of literature. ‘Skill’ is a quality of the Poet which enables him to produce a piece of work characterised by a ‘theme’.

The Critic expresses with this sentence that the Poet’s skill is a theme of the poem…



1. ‘Trobar naturau (why quotation marks?)

 p.28  “Except in the gap, Marcabru does not call attention to his rhetorical skills. His inclinattion, as we have remarked, is to be suspicious of eloquence…He prefers to

compose according to trobar naturau.”

Comment:  The Poet certainly does not ‘call attention’ to whatever the Critic thinks. She is back to her opposition of ‘eloquence / trobar naturau’, repeating what she says

at the beginning of sub-chapter 1.

p.29  “This trobar naturau contributes to his reputation, for Peire d’Alvernhe later says that Marcabru used to sing according to an understanding of nature.”

Comment:  The Critic has quoted and translated (cf. chapter on her translation, below) six lines by Marcabru, in the first of which the term trobarnaturau  occurs. Presumably she considers that these lines are self-explanatory, for in the sentence that follows she refers to ‘this’ trobar naturau, as though the meaning of the term was clear.

She then passes on to another Troubadour who uses the word natura in reference to Marcabru and takes this as evidence for her claim that Marcabru’s ‘reputation’ rests in part  on ‘this trobar naturau’.

However, there is no causal relation between the two parts of the statement quoted: it does not follow from Peire d’Alvernhe’s reference to Marcabru that ‘this trobar naturau contributes to his reputation’. Other Troubadours also use the word natura. Do they all, therefore, represent trobar naturau ?

“according to an understanding of nature” – what does the Critic mean by that ? She does not explain herself, but passes on to another critic and his view, which she qualifies as ‘right’, of trobar naturau:

“Roncaglia situates Marcabru’s trobar naturau within the context of medieval theology and philosophy, which conceived of natural law as moralo order and harmony…He argues that Marcabru thinks of his trobar naturau, or in accordance with the moral order of things (sic!), because it opposes the new gallant eroticism of the courtly world.”

Comment:  The Critic shows that she knows her Roncaglia.

Roncaglia may well ‘situate…’, quote Latin texts – but it is the Troubadours’ texts which are under investigation!- and ‘argue’ that Marcabru ‘thinks’ on the lines of these texts. Anybody is free to do anything with Marcabru’s works, even if this does not help towards an understanding of the Troubadour’s message. However, the reader does not want to know what the Critic thinks ‘possible’ – he wants to know what Marcabru actually says in a language difficult to understand. This is what the Critic proposes:

 pp.29-30  “Marcabru expresses his concern for what is in harmony with nature and outside it, either in terms of a contrast between the innocence of natural creatures andthe corruption of man -(is ‘man’ not a ‘natural creature’ ?)- or else in terms of nature as the world of base instinct as opposed to the rationality of man: in summer when nature is at its most teeming, is the season of renewed lusts, while Marcabru as a poet of trobar naturau composes according to the true nature of man, with rational control rather than outpouring of feeling and instinct.”

Comment:  What does this pile of words, arranged in her personal style, teach the reader about the trobar naturau ?

 p.31  “Marcabru’s view of nature corresponds to the Christian scholastic one…This attitude governs his use of nature imagery.”

Comment:  This remains to be shown.

“His plant imagery derives from the Christian tradition…”, followed by a Latin quotation illustrating the tradition, but not Marcabru  who is supposed to be the subject of the investigation.

Why should the Poets not use the imagery current at their time? The meaning they assign to it must be elucidated from their texts.

The Critic only knows the tradition. Faced with obscure texts, it is convenient for her to fall back on familiar terrain whose meanings she transplants on the strength of verbal similarity. This does not affect the texts, of course, whose message remains to be discovered.

 p.35  The Critic makes a revealing statement: “even if these animals are traditionally images of luxuria, Marcabru makes no attempt to link them with a tradition. The audience would need no education to understand them.” (underlining by Critic)

Comment:  The Critic admits that there is no evidence for a ‘link with a tradition’ and does the linking herself by asserting that Marcabru saved himself the trouble, awarethat the audience would ‘know’ anyway. The Critic examines texts only to ignore what she finds in them (in this case, absence of evidence).The remainder of the chapter is the usual woolly mixture of paraphrase and unfounded assertions. At the end the Critic gives her own view of trobar naturau:

pp.40-41 “the art of composing according to an understanding of what is natural and unnatural, and of the moral truths nature reveals.”

No comment.

 p.41  “Marcabru’s trobar naturau belongs to the scholastic view of nature as a pattern of symbols, which is the basis of Christian exegesis.”

Comment:  How can trobar naturau ‘belong’ to the ‘scholastic view of nature’ ? Does she mean that the Poet’s works appertain to the Church ? How can a ‘theme’ , or ‘style’ according to the Critic, ‘belong’ to a ‘view’ ? The Critic’s inability to express herself with logic and precision is manifest throughout the book.

 p.41  Final sentence of sub-chapter:

“This now leads us to consider Marcabru’s contribution to the trobar clus.”

Comment:  Why should ‘this’, that is, Marcabru’s following of the ‘Christian exegesis’, ‘lead us to consider …trobar clus ? Because her ‘analysis’ is a foregone conclusion. With the support of her bible, Roncaglia, everything becomes ‘Christian’, for he says so.

 p.52  “The imagery is reminiscent of the hortus conclusus, and desideratus was a name for Christ. It cannot be said for certain that Marcabru means that the only true love is Christian love; but whatever his exact meaning, the imagery is Christian.”

Comment:  The imagery may well remind her of something. It may remind another person of something different. This is of no interest to the reader, as little as the statement of Christ’s name in a different context. Two lines and a lot of footnote space are filled by saying nothing about the poem supposed to be under discussion.This is followed by the promising ‘It cannot be said for certain’. Why does the Critic refrain from a pure assertion ? So that she can retreat in case of need. The Critic has no idea and does not care what Marcabru says – “whatever his exact meaning” ! – but she can say with certainty that the imagery occurs in ‘Christian works. Roncaglia certainly says so’ (cf. her footnote 4), and this is ‘Marcabru’s contribution to the trobar clus’.

The chapter on Marcabru ends with a summing up of the Critic’s findings:

p.54  “Marcabru’s view of eloquentia is one of suspicion, but this is the suspicion of an educated writer himself well-versed in rhetoric. His own poetic eloquentia is trobar naturau, the art of composing according to the truth and an understanding of the natural order of things (sic!).”

Comment:  The Critic gives a selection of repeats from previous pages, including the popular ‘moral order of things’. And that’s it. What has the reader learnt about Marcabru ? That the Critic knows her way round ‘Christian exegesis’.



Apart from Roncaglia (referred to at least five times in chapter 1: pp.28, 29, 25, 50, 52), Dante is the authority the Critic is based upon. He has inspired the title of the book, even if the Critic refrains from using the Latin term for eloquence, a term which, however, appears abundantly throughout.

Dante is, of course, firmly rooted in Chritian exegesis. He is used by the Critic for the purpose of introducing the Troubadours into the same exegesis, the linkbeing ‘eloquentia’.

Dante’s views on the Troubadours are forwarded axiomatically. He is the supreme critic, the ultimate authority, with the Troubadours as his fore-runners:

p.87  “…the long ten-syllable line (Arnaut Daniel) which Dante praised as the best…the beginning of a new eloquence anticipating Dante himself.”

 p.1  “Dante placed it (‘their eloquentia’) within the tradition of medieval Rhetoric.”

cf. p.29  “Roncaglia situated Marcabru’s trobar naturau within the context of medieval theology and philosophy.”

Anybody can ‘place’ according to their inclinations.

The philologist has to prove in accordance with the texts.

p.25  “Dante says the poet must have ingenium et scientia, and Peire d’Alvernhe that he should have gienhs ginhos.”

In a book supposedly about Troubadours, Dante comes first, and the Troubadour has the merit of anticipating Dante – as best he could.

The Critic does not understand the language of the Troubadours (cf. chapter on her translations).

 p.144  “But is it really surprising that Dante finally judged him (Giraut de Bornelh) to have been overrated?”

In lieu of argument the Critic quotes Dante whose authority in this matter is beyond doubt. She jumps onto the band waggon and elaboratyes a little:

 p.144  “Giraut’s virtues are of a pedestrian kind.”

The Critic has no right to give an opinion – she does not understand Troubadour language (cf. chapter on translations).

p.186  “Dante honoured Arnaut Daniel above all other vernacular poets before himself.”

The Critic suggests that Dante was in one line with the Troubadours and that he was the culminating point of that line.

Following sentence:  “In Arnaut’s work the eloquence of the Troubadours reaches its culmination.”

The Critic repeats without reference to Dante – after all the book’s title has ‘Troubadours’ for a first word.

With the help of various other critics the Critic manages to mention Dante nine times on page 186. The reader learns nothing about the alleged subject of this chapter, Arnaut Daniel.

 p.189  “This single-mindedness (of Arnaut Daniel) must have helped to establish his reputation with Dante.”

The Critic expresses her conviction that her perception of ‘single-mindedness’ was also Dante’s. The phrase ‘his reputation with Dante’ suggests yet again that the Critic’s interest is, in the first place, with Dante who is the yardstick against which Arnaut Daniel is measured and found short (in Purgatory).

 p.198  “Perhaps he (Arnaut Daniel) reaches beyond fin’ amors to mystical Christian love, anticipating Dante.”

The Critic, covering herself by means of ‘perhaps’, effectively states that Arnaut Daniel is a precursor to the great Dante. Nowhere does the Critic say what fin’ amors actually is. Has she considered the meaning ‘love ends’ ? This does not prevent her from assigning it a rank – in relation and with due respect to Dante.

 p.203  “Dante must have admired.., Dante admired…”. This name twice in two lines of text.

p.203  “Dante praised”; next line: “Dante probably admired”


The Critic’s admiration for Dante (and related issues) is the driving force behind the book.


Examination of translations offered

Mistakes in the translations are legion.

Chapter 1 – Marcabru                    (Cr = Critic)

 p.9   Cujatz vos qu’ieu non conosca / D’amor s’es orba o l’osca

Cr:  ‘Do you think I fail to realise that love is blind or one-eyed?’

but :   conosca – ‘know’,  si – ‘if, whether’

Do you believe that I don’t know of love whether it is blind or one-eyed?

Dejeanne: ‘Croyez-vous que je ne sache point si Amour est…’

 p.10  Per pauc es hom desmentitz

Cr: ‘on the slightest pretext one is accused of lying’

but :  per pauc – ‘for little’,  desmentir, des-mentir – prefix des– indicative of removal, for little (little suffices) one is taken away from lying; meaning obscure

p.12   Aujatz de chan

Cr:  “hear of my song”

but : poss.pron. not in text

E Marcabrus…sap la razon…lassar

Cr:   “how Marcabru… knows how to bind up the theme”

but:   twice ‘how’ not in text

p.13   Qui dreich m’en col jugtar

Cr:   “who must judge correctly in this’”

but : pure guessing, not justifiable in text; meaning obscure

p.14  Deffendens et enquistaire

Cr:   “defender and inquisitor”

but :   based on unfounded assumption (cf. Footnote 5: “Marcabru seems to be enumerating all participants in an enquiry”); Cr. opts for one of several possibilities without arguing her choice philologically.

 E vei cum jovens se tuda

Cr:   “youth is being extinguished”

but :   extinguishes itself meaning obscure

E cum amors es cujaire

Cr:   “and how love follows vain illusions”

but :  speculation; cujaire to be elucidated, obviously from cujar; Dejeanne: ‘songeur’

L’amors don ieu sui mostraire

Cr:   “the love of which I testify”

but :   mostrar – ‘show’, mostraire – someone who shows; Cr. opts for a word which fits into her view of the poem (cf. her footnote 6)

p.16   Qu’ieu mezeis sui en erranssa / D’esclarzir paraul’ escura

Cr:  “for I myself am uncertain how to clarify obscure speech”

but :   erranssa from errar – ‘se tromper, errer, commettre une faute’; Cr. is trying to introduce sense by means of wrong translation. In Marcabru’s time the word erranssa was used to designate Catharism . More words which would relate to Catharism can be found in Marcabru and the early Troubadours.

E metton en un’ eganssa / Falss’ amor encontra fina

Cr:  “and place true and false love together on the same level”

but   :  Cr. changes order of falss’ and fina and opts for her version because it enables her to identify a “basic pattern of dispositio in classical rhetoric” (p.17)

eganssa – 1° ce qui égalise, 2° tromperie; the word includes elements of equality and of deceit; meaning obscure; encontra includes ‘against’ and ‘meet’, not ‘together’

p.20   gap

line 10  don non sabretz a lutz issir

Cr:  “in which you will not be able to reach a conclusion”

but : Cr imagines the presence of a ‘debating theme’ in this poem (cf. summary p.28) and ‘translates’ accordingly, correct: from where you cannot come out into the light

l.23    mus e badaill

Cr:  “let him muse and gape”

but :  badar, badaillar – ‘yawn’, a reference to sleep.

l.33   no sap om plus ni d’escrimir

Cr:  “no one knows more than I, nor of fencing”

but :  ‘than I’ not in text, but fitting for the ‘boasting theme’ as conceived of by Cr.

p.21, l.38   chatz coram voill

Cr: “I hunt where I will”

but :  coram not an adverb of place, but of time; the former is, however, more suitable for the Cr’s idea of ‘cuckolder

l.41    eis de rahus

Cr:  “rushes forward”

but :  pure guessing;  correct: ‘comes out of the rushes’; meaning obscure

l.42    senes mentir

Cr:  “I’m not lying”

but :  ‘without lying’

l.43     Mos alos es

Cr:  “my private property is”

but :  ‘my fief is’ (reference to high rank in society)

l.49   Dels plus tors sens

Cr:   “with the most tortuous signs”

but :  Cr singles out this meaning from a number of other possibilities because ‘signa’ occurs in ‘Rhetoric’ (cf. p.26)

The Critic makes the following unsubstantiated allegations concerning this poem :

p.23  “Marcabru claims to be the universal cuckolder (ll.58-60)

but :  no evidence in text

“Marcabru implies (!)…that some people may boast of sexual prowess, but only he carries out his boast successfully.”

but :  In the absence of evidence, the Critic makes Marcabru ‘imply’ yet again.

“he takes the fool’s bread, or his wife”

but :  no evidence for ‘wife’;  who is the ‘fool’ ?

“and keeps his own to himself” –  the Critic offers no explanation for this view of hers.

“The images of the estoc breto, of hunting with dogs have erotic implications.”

For evidence she quotes not the texts, but Roncaglia.

“He has locked up his ‘property’ or his wife so that only he can enjoy her.”

but : no evidence for ‘wife’, no matter whether the Critic calls her ‘fool’s bread’ or ‘property’;  no evidence that ‘only he can enjoy her’.

p.24  “ ‘Fire’ here and ‘water’ there (ll.52-54) are the contrary appearances assumed by the cuckolder, or perhaps they refer more specifically to sexual arousal and release, allude to again in ‘mi fatz viure e morir’ (no italics). The Critic asserts meaning of ‘fire’ and ‘water’ and then has a better idea which she puts forward tentatively (‘perhaps’). However, if she refers to ejaculation,  there is no evidence in the text, as little as for her ‘sexual arousal’. The alleged allusion in l.57 stems from the Critic’s imagination.


Summary of findings pp.20-28

The Critic approaches the poem with a preconceived idea: it is a gap. She knows the characteristics of a gap and hence what elements have to be expected in the poem.

She spares no trouble to adapt the text so that it can meet her expectations. She has another preconceived idea: presence of a ‘debating theme’ modelled on ‘medieval

Rhetoric’. This requires more adaptation. The poem being conveniently obscure, nobody can say what its message is. Hence the CRitic feels free to indulge in her imagination.

p.29    E segon trobar naturau

Cr:  “and according to the natural art of composing”

but :  If this is her definition of trobar naturau, ‘art’ is definitely not implied in the term.

aprendetz la comensansa

Cr: “learn of its beginning!”

but :  ‘of its’ not in text;  the meaning and significance of la comensansa is left to be elucidated.

Be.l teing per deum naturau

Cr:  “(someone who…) I certainly consider to be natural through God”

but : text clearly states ‘natural god’; obvious translation of this line: ‘I consider him natural god’. Critic clearly shuns away from this heresy.

cf. Guilhem IX, 1.4 E tenguatz lo per vilan – ‘And consider him a villain’

 p.30    Lur joys sec la via plana

Cr: “Their joy follows the smooth path”

but :  also   plana – ‘flat’, as opposed to mountain;

verb-form – ‘he, she, it levels’ sec adjective: ‘dry’

subject / object interchangeable

Cr: ignores a host of other possibilities. She does not justify her one choice. It has to be considered that the different options, in the impossibility to eliminate any of them on philological grounds, are all valid and add up to provide a fuller picture.

Que scienza jauzionda

Cr:  “For joyful understanding”

but :  scienza does not mean ‘understanding’

laus lo jorn e l’ost’ al matin

Cr:  “I praise the day and my host at sunrise”

but :  ‘my’ not in text;  ost’(a) – ‘hostess’;  matin does not mean ‘sunrise’

p.36   …plen de gandill

Cr:  “full of discord”

but : meaning of gandill open to discussion;  Cr chooses a word that fits into her concept.


Cr:  “bares its teeth”

but :  meaning of denteiar holds more than that; contra implies ‘counter-’, something mutual meaning obscure

p.37   verai amor ses mentir

Cr:  “true, undeceiving love”

but : ses mentir does not mean ‘undeceiving’; however, this word fits into the ‘courtly love’ preconception.

 p.40   …car el no sen / freg ni gel

Cr:  “because it feels no cold or frost”

but :  negation is with verb, not with noun.

 p.43    poem XIV

ll.5-6   …descresc


Cr:  “bring low”(5),  “fill with repugnance”(6);

but :  both not justifiable in text; same verb, creisser, with different prefixes in prominent position (line-end, rhyme); verb to be maintained, qualified by prefixes : des signals removal, en intensification, increase.

meaning left to be elucidated

l.7   Qu’ieu suy assis en trebalh

Cr:  “for I am fixed in torment”

but : falsification “for I am seated in work” (while working)

l.9    d’aquesta

Cr:  “by this lady”

but : ‘lady’ not in text

l.10    balans

Cr: “uncertainty”

but : more information to be had in connection with preceding balansa (8)

12   felho(n) does not mean ‘evil’

17   l’us;  Cr implies “one desire”, but this not in text

18   l’autre; Cr implies “appearance”; not in text

Cr: not aware of a recurrent theme throughout Troubadour poetry : opposition l’us / l’autre (cf.p.49).

25   Per cujatz…   Cr: “in foolish fancy”;  not in text

p.44  l.31   La musa port’ e.l badalh;

Cr: “he possesses futile and illusory hopes”

l.33   Qu’estra grat mus‘ e badalh(a)

Cr:  “for he hopes vainly and foolishly against his will”

but :  falsification of ll.31 and 33; port does not mean ‘possess’;  no trace of the alleged feelings;

The text as written states first person singular for subject!

meaning obscure

l.32  selh qu’…a;   Cr:  “the man who”;  ‘man’ not in text

37  felhona does not mean ‘evil’

38  estranhatge baralh; 

Cr:  “cruel confilct”;

but :  not in text; cf. meanings of both words in PD; Cr ‘adapts’ the text to suit the well-defined preconception of ‘courtly love’.

39  pays amors los desirans

Cr:  “love nourishes those who desire it”;  ‘it’ not in text

41  q’una… ;   Cr:  “for one lady”;   ‘lady’ not in text

43  q’aquesta… ; Cr:  “this lady” ;    idem

48  autra…  ;         “other lady”;        idem

47  quar si per lieis no m’espresc

Cr:  “for if I am not aroused by her”

but :  falsification : espreiser – ‘reveiller’, a far wider meaning

Summary of findings, poem XIV

Critic introduces ‘lady’ four times, yet, there is not a single ‘donna’ in the text.

Likewise she introduces ‘man’.

The Critic falsifies or narrows down the text so that ‘courtly love can materialise.

For any progress to be made in the understanding of this and any other Troubadour, respect of the text, extreme exactness, is the first requirement.

As it is, the Critic’s ‘interpretation’ of the poem is in reality an adaptation (cf. her treatment of poem XVI). The reader learns nothing about the meaning of the actual poem.

p.49   Quez anc non amet neguna / Ni d’autra non fo amatz

Cr:   “For never did he love any woman, nor was loved by one”

but :  autra does not mean ‘one’ (cf. recurrent opposition of una / autra , in addition to the masculine form, throughout Troubadour poetry); autra refers to a specific female, ‘the other’; neguna incorporates neg – ‘refusal, denial, I deny’ and una – ‘one’, also specific female, one characterised by ‘refusal, etc.’

meaning to be elucidated!

p.51   tals que cornutz fa cornuda

Cr:  “such that the horned man has the horned woman”

but :  fa does not mean ‘has’

p.52   desirat per desirada

Critic replaces desiraire in manuscript by ‘desirada’ with the unwarranted excuse that this is required by the rhyme – does she think she can better the Poet ???

There are many more irregularities throughout Troubadour poetry which cannot be blamed on poor poetic craftsmanship, especially in such a blatant case. It is precisely the investigator’s task to find out the significance of these phenomena in works known for excellence of form.

The line as in the manuscript remains to be elucidated.

 p.53   so m’en somon qu’ieu sia guerrejaire

Cr:  “this urges me to wage war on it (presumably she means the previously mentioned malvestat)”

but : Cr ignores the subject, ‘they’ ; ‘on it’ not in text; part of Critic’s preconception.

second hemistich: ‘that I be a warrior’, in what sense, to be elucidated.

Subject of preceding line also ‘she’, addressed in the plural, cf. following line:

c’a lieis sap bon quan m’au cridar ni braire

Cr:  “they like to hear me shout and clamour”

but :  falsification, lieis is singular, not plural, even if this makes no sense to the Critic.

 p.54   Plas es lo vers, vauc l’afinan

Cr:  “The vers is smooth, I refine it”; significance ?

but : This is at the end of the poem, the Poet has expressed satisfaction and yet, he goes on ‘refining’. afinar also means to make finer, thinner in the physical sense. What would the Critic make of that ? What is the significance in the context of love ?

p.146   Chapter 4 :  Raimbaut d’Aurenga

Que sapcha per c’anatz blasman / Trobar clus ni per cal semblan

Cr:  “why you keep finding fault with the closed style and for what reasons”

but : semblan does not mean ‘reason‘ – the Critic should know that this would be razo ! negligent use of language !

So que es a totz comunal     Cr:  “what is common to everyone”

Critic’s comment on this obscure line : “  ‘So que es totz comunal’ probably does not mean ‘what everyone can understand’, but ‘what everyone can compose’ “.

Comment :

At a safe distance from the text the Critic is fantasizing, using the word ‘probably’ which in wont technique will be simply left out on the following pages. She might as well have said, the object common to everyone is the nose. Critic has total disregard for the obscurity of the lines quoted and no inhibitions at all to impose her own meaning on them. Tough luck for the uninformed reader.

Torn mos trobars que ja ogan

Cr:  “(I don’t want) my composition to result (in such an uproar) that from now on never”

but :  tornar does not mean ‘to result’;  ja – affirmation or negation, both implied;

Cr chooses in accordance with her preconception.

 Lo lauzo.l bon e.l pauc e.l gran

Cr:  “the noble and the few and the great never praise it”

but :  falsification;  bon does not mean ‘noble’;  pauc as opposed to following gran, ‘small’;  all three adjectives in the singular; the text shows an unwonted intermingling of singular and plural (cf. the discussed Marcabru-texts), as though an individual was made up of several; obscure; a line completely in the affirmative, which does not prevent the Critic from making it negative on the basis of one option out of two in the preceding line, in the interest of her preconception. Cf. her footnote 2 where, in an attempt of justification, she equals ‘small’ and ‘foolish’ among other things.

p.147     poem 1

NB  The critical comment here is far from exhaustive.

1.1   feinz;  Cr:  “inventive”, a pure guess;  only certainty: there is a verb fenher to which feinz might be related.

 2 Vas cui m’azerc ;   Cr:  “towards which I raise up my spirit”;  ‘my spirit’ not in text!

5  el mur  does not mean “by the wall”

6  que does not mean “and”

vos does not mean “song”

e ja nuls non si azerga ;  Cr:  “and let no other add his voice to these”;  falsification : ‘no, other, add, his voice, these’ not in text. Same verb at l.2 translated as ‘raise up’.

4 + 9

Cr takes grill (4) as a plural, against the evidence of five manuscripts and at the cost of having to adjust the verb)form, presumabluy following Pattison who argues that grill is needed for the sake of internal rhyme. However, systematic deviations from the rhyme are found in for example Guilhem IX (cf. my note 28). The singular at line 4 is consistent with the sing. at l.9.

10   fuec grezesc does not mean “deceitfulness”, but ‘Greek fire’. Critic offers no evidence from the text for her interpretation.

12   ten loire ;  Cr:  “setting a trap for them”;   ‘for them’ not in text.

14   don mi rancur does not mean “why then do I complain?” blanc vaire does not mean “whited sepulchres”

15   fan does not mean “turn”

16   savis er fols ;  Cr: “the wise man will be a fool”; why not : ‘the fool will be a wise man’ ?

Critic’s choice of definite / indefinite article is arbitrary, leading to unjustified fixation of meaning (as confirmed by her comment, p.152: “the wise man must shun them), while in reality, according to the text, the same man will be wise and foolish.

qi s’i pliura does not mean “if he trusts in them” : ‘if’ , ‘them’ not in text .

18   flama grezesca does not mean “cunning stratagems” (cf. l.10)

22   estrain does not mean “unseemly”;  fer does not mean “loathsome” ; given the obscurity of the text, Critic is not justified in opting for anything but the most obvious

meanings : ‘strange, foreign’,  ‘wild’.

23   don mon escur cor esclaire does not mean “how I may brighten my gloomy heart”.

‘how’ not in text

27   ira does not mean “sorrow”

29   no m’es enanz does not mean “is of no avail to me” ; idea of ‘forward’ not rendered.

30   anz vau triban does not mean “rather am I tossed from side to side”

31   cill does not mean “head”

32-33  Tant vei pretz dur per que laire / Lauzengiers conten e laira

Cr:  “I see Worth so hard that some evil-tongued thief disputes and yaps” meaning ???

but : ‘I see worth so hard because I bark / (the ) slanderer disputes and barks’

cf. Marcabru’s  c’a lieis sap bon quan m’au cridar ni braire

It follows from Raimbaut’s two lines that the Poet himself makes the noise the slanderer makes. The Poet must be connected somehow with the slanderer (cf. my previous remarks concerning the intermingling of singualr and plural for one person). The slanderer – who, what is he?- is part of the Poet…

35   Per qe jois fraing e berca ;  Cr:  “so that joy is broken and shattered” ; but : the sentence is in the active, not the passive, correct : ‘because joy breaks and damages’

36   Qi.s vol critz qe.l pren e pesca  does not mean “let anyone who will cry out that he is catching it like a fish on a hook” . falsification : ‘like’ not in text;  no evidence for an image being used.

37   Car s’es empeinz does not mean “have pushed themselves forward”, verb in singualr!

38   Vidal Costanz, Marti Domerc ;

Cr:  “slanderers or, more probably seducers: the ‘son’ suffers because his legitimacy is questioned, either because of gossip or because his ‘father’ has been wounded by the mother’s adultery. And seducers sleep with each other’s wives.”

Comment :  Critic fantasizing yet again, no evidence in text.

39   escoire does not mean “save”, but ‘fâcher, irriter’ (PD); es coire – ‘cuire, brûler’;  prefix es – ‘into’ ;  sense obscure at this stage.

43   malvestat does not mean “evil tongues”

44   jai does not mean “sleeps”

45   domnei does not mean “amorous dalliance”

46-48  Car penti.m meinz que no paresc / Als paucs emblanz del menor derc / Que vau doptan aur per coire

Cr:   “For I am not abandoning the struggle so much as I seem to be in the eyes of the insignificant pilferers of the lowest rank, who always suspect that gold is mere copper.”

but : ‘abandon, struggle, so much, eyes, insignificant pilferers, always, mere’  not in text. Critic gives an inintelligible rendering which cannot be deduced from the text.

49   al perill does not mean “in the danger”

50   qi n’er fraire does not mean “who will be exactly like them”

51   fraira does not mean “smells out”

52   lo frans fis does not mean “the noble and courtly man”

54   crims does not mean “ugly rumour”

55   cresc does not mean “grow in value”

57   vau chastian does not mean “I give moral instruction”

63   baron does not mean “noble youth” ; cresca does not mean “exalt”

64-65  Cel qi fa.l vers si compaira / Ab leis qe ja non esquiura

Cr:  “May he who composes this vers be judged in the company of her whom he will never abandon.”

but : Critic ‘translates’ in accordance with ‘courtly love’ pattern which calls for ‘judge, company, ever faithful lover’ (cf. p.161 where the Critic reveals her familiarity with this pattern which she applies to and duly ‘finds’ in all the – obscure! – poetry discussed.

68   torn e repaire does not mean “makes his way” ; there are two activities, not only one.

Comment : The Critic passes over the difficulties of the text as though they did not exist. If the message she claims to have extracted was as obvious as she claims it to be  – “The theme is the struggle for creative joy to overcome contaminating evil.” p.151 – it would have been found a long time ago.  Her comment on the poem (pp.152-156) is a paraphrase of her ‘courtly’ adaptation of it :

p.152   “But the blanc vaire, the hypocritical and corrupt, undermine true friendship; the wise man must shun them because it is hard enough for him to uphold joy in its integrity even by himself, without their influence.”

“The wren’s song, precious both for its joy and its rarity, was an image both of a joyful heart and of poetic artistry.”

“His words are ‘Cars, bruns e tenz’ because his mood is rare, sombre and mysterious, subtly coloured.”

p.155   “The trobar clus here” – the Critic is not sure that this is trobar clus; cf. her footnote 1 – “…is the binding together of meanings and form where the form itself is an image of the meaning. Rare words, rhymes and images are the formal result of a feeling of rare Jois. The troubadour’s technical activity in creating his work is a theme theme threading through the main theme of joy seeking to overcome evil, and artistic achievement establishes through the form the victory of joy. Raimbaut’s trobar clus involves…not so much the distinct layers of meaning…but suggested meanings…”

p.156   “This song…marks a culmination of the trobar clus.” Here, the Critic has overcome her qualms concerning the ‘style’ of the poem (cf. preceding paragraph).

This waffle is such that every reader can put into it whatever they feel like or prefer or anything. As for the Poet, he has become irrelevant.

The Critic comes to the conclusion  :

“The concept of a poetry…uniform by accident or design…is foreign to these poets.”

This is propped up by the authority of Alphonse of Castille (cf. J. Gruber who also found this poet useful) who is quoted as replying to Guiraut Riquier, in Latin, that the poets are inventores (p.212).

Unfortunately the’ inventor’ in this case is the Critic.


J.H.Marshall, Medium Aevum 45 (1976) 315-317

“unlike most theses, it (the present study) shows itself capable of the difficult transformation into a readable and enlightening book, which marks a considerable advance in troubadour studies…Dr Paterson pays due regard to her predecessors…she finds new and convincing things to say…No doubt we shall always be far from complete understanding. Dr Paterson’s work brings us closer to that goal.”   (which ‘goal’? that of being ‘far from complete understanding’?)

A.R.Press, French Studies 30 (1976) 185-186

“…highly personal evaluation of the phonic qualities…They (such observations) suffer moreover, and more seriously, from the considerable ambiguity with which key citical terma, of varied origin and uncertain authenticity, are used. The reader is first assured, for example, of the ‘existence of different styles of composition:…trobar clus, leu… (p.2). Yet it emerges later that at least one of these ‘styles’ of composition, the trobar leu, can itself cover a wide range of styles’ (p.209). As for the trobar prim, despite this book’s numerous suggestions to the contrary, the very term is unknown to the Troubadours; a hypothetical will-o’-the-wisp… In short, …lack of critical precision and methodological rigour… Little positive advance is made in this work on positins already established by other recent studies in the same field.”


If proper philological criteria were applied, it would not be possible for two such diverging  assessments to be produced.


Ulrich Moelk         Trobar Clus,  Trobar Leu;  Muenchen 1968

p.9   Vorwort: “In ihrem (Abhandlung) Zentrum steht die Frage nach der Entstehung des von den Dichtern selbst trobar clus genannten dunklen lyrischen Stils.”

Translation : “Foreword: ‘At its (treatise) centre is the question concerning the origin of the dark lyrical style called trobar clus by the poets themselves.’  “

After this, the Critic notes the existence of three theories:

trobar clus derives from Latin and Arabic sources (Scheludko, Viscardi, Pollmann);

trobar clus to be explained ‘from the very history of Provençal artistic poetry’ (Vossler);

trobar clus to be explained on the basis of an intermediary position between the two named (del Monte, Koehler)

The Critic then declares his intention to “continue in the path used by Vossler, del Monte and Koehler”. He gives no reason for this, except that in his view these critics are to be preferred.

Comment:   Even before starting his research, the Critic states what he is expecting to find: confirmation of the theory he favours for undisclosed reasons. This means that for him the results of his predecessors are more important than the texts themselves. The result of his own research is thus a foregone conclusion and this in spite of textual obscurity. Preconceived ideas will be projected into these texts by means of the ‘methodology’ observed in the previously discussed critics.

p.199  For example, the last paragraph of the book :

Following a three-line quotation in Latin concerning the use of ‘sermo impliciter’ and ‘sermo figurativus’ in Latin texts, the former ‘ad plures’, the latter ‘ad sapientes’, the Critic jumps, unaided by philological bridges, to Raimbaut d’Aurenga and Giraut de Bornelh and their discussion of trobar clus and trobar leu, asserting that ‘of course’ this is what the Latin theory ‘reminds him of’. To strengthen this argument he says: “ It can really not at all be excluded that such or similar ‘explanatory’ remarks were relating already in the twelfth century to the basic differentiation of locutio simplex and locutio figurata.”

Comment:   In order to better show the relation between trobar clus and trobar leu with the Latin terms, the same italics are used for both.

On page 178 the Critic takes a swipe at a colleague whom he accuses of sliding from conjecture to statement of fact and stays with conjecture himself, even with respect to Geoffroi (‘most probably’), which advances our understanding as little as does the colleague’s method.

What are the Critic’s findings then?

The ensuing final sentence of the book runs as follows:  “These admittedly meagre findings are the result of our investigation into the history of the ornatus-doctrine and its relevance to the Provençal discussion of styles.”

Comment:   What is the point of an investigation unable to produce statements of fact ? The investigation was a waste of time! In the absence of philological, scientific argument, that is, in the absence of evidence, the Critic indulges in speculation, unable to promote our understanding of the subject, a suitable end indeed.

Remainder of book:

Guilhem IX

p.18   two quotations of eight, respectively six lines taking up at least a third of a page; no translation offered; ignoring textual obscurities, Critic gives a few lines of speculative paraphrase supposedly rendering the sense of the quotations.

p.19   “The Vers Companho farai (printed as though ‘Vers’, with capital German V, was part of the first line of the poem) is presumably the first song (definitely the first of the preserved ones) to refer to the new courtly style.”

Comment:   The Poet calls his work a vers, the Critic a ‘song’.

The Critic presumes, guesses that this is ‘the first song which…’. In other words, he does not know. What is the point of the statement ?

The Critic claims to know (‘definitely’), but makes no more than a pure, emphatic assertion.

The Critic puts into brackets something for which he claims to have  ‘definite’ knowledge while attaching doubt to the main statement outside the brackets (‘presumably’).

The ‘new courtly style’ is referred to as a fact established beyond doubt. The truth is that there is no supporting evidence in texts which must be considered obscure.

p.20   “If it is correct to assume that behind the erotic metaphor of the dos cavalhs the ‘old’ and the ‘new’ concept are hiding…”

but : The Critic operates on the basis of hypothesis.

What if his ‘assumption’ is not correct ?

The Critic feels uncertainty and expresses himself with caution: “…William does not seem to want to give up either, here…”

but : Not only is the Critic uncertain about the presence of the said ‘concepts of love’, he is not sure either about the Poet’s attitude to them. This does not prevent him from making a statement of fact in the final part of the long sentence:

“…the more recent songs show, however, that in terms of literature William has opted for courtly love.”

Comment:   All scruples / obscurities cast aside, the Critic states his conviction that the Poet definitely shows an attitude different to that of poem 1, thus complying with the nomenclature invented by literary critics.

As for obscurities in poem 1, cf. Note 2 at the end of my Gaunt-Review.

pp.20-39    On this basis the Critic embarks on a discussion of ‘courtly love’ where all sounds easy and self-evident, quoting texts out of context and refusing to translate them (too dicey?), thus avoiding all difficulties. He takes over and elaborates on the hypotheses of his predecessors without producing any evidence from the supposed subject of investigation. He makes no attempt to actually investigate the texts.

pp.48-49    However, the problems facing the reader of Troubadour texts are manifest in the Critic’s only attempt at translation :

Guilhem IX, poem 3

From the start the Translator declares his intention to compare notes with another translator whom he accuses of making mistakes.

The translation is not produced in order to serve as a starting point for an investigation of textual obscurities.

ll.1-2   Companho, tant ai agutz avols conres

 Qu’ieu non puesc mudar no.n chan e que no.m pes

“Comrades, I have experienced so much bad hospitality (inhospitable reception or bad company), that I cannot help singing about it and being saddened by it.”


Companho also dat. sing.; possibly a senhal; translatable as ‘with, for Companh’ (cf. note 25, Thesis)

ai agutz ;   ai does not mean ‘experience’; in the presence of obscurity translation has to be as close to the text as possible;

conres also means ‘food’; the Poet may be referring to bad food he has had on a certain occasion;

no.n can be non with implications for the sense; also no.m or nom

syntax of the two lines:

l.2 consists of two subordinate clauses, each introduced by que, depending on the main clause in l.1:

‘that I cannot help singing and that it does not burden me’.

Much as the sense might be obscure, this is the grammatically correct translation.

The Critic treats this line as one subordinate clause with the verb non pues mudar on which an enumeration of verbal phrases depends.

However, the Poet has opted for omission of que after mudar, an omission which would be upheld in enumeration (cf. use by other Poets). A que introduced for the second element   interrupts the flow of the structure. que produces a break which signals the beginning of the second subordinate clause.

Instead of rendering what the Poet says, the Critic imposes the only sense he can make of the lines.

l.3   Enpero no vueill c’om sapcha mon afar de maintas res

Cr: “but I do not want my dealings in respect of many things to be known”

but : What does the Poet mean by Mon afar de maintas res ? He does not appear to say. What does the Critic understand by his translation ? He does not say. This means for the reader that he does not learn much.

This stanza states in fact that as a result of some ‘base’ connection (1) the Poet cannot help singing and feels relieved (2). He then alludes to his ‘dealings’ (3).

l.4   E dirai vos m’entendensa de que es

Cr: “and I will tell you my opinion as to what it is about”

but : entendensa – ‘intelligence, entendement, explication, signification, sens, avis, opinion, intention, desir, affection, requête d’amour’ (PD).  Given this multitude of meanings,  especially the last one mentioned which is relevant to a love-poem, the Critic singles out the one that appeals to him. However, there is no doubt that other meanings are also possible…

de que es – literally ‘of what it is’ ; a vague statement whose meaning is fixed in translation .

l.5-6    No m’azauta cons gardatz ni gorcs ses peis (ms: gorc)

Ni gabars de malvatz homes c’om de lor faitz non agues (ms: lors)

Cr:   “I do not like a guarded vagina nor a pond without fish, nor the boasting of wicked men who have not carried out anything”

but : While the Critic’s translation is a possible one, it is not necessarily the only one.

The vicinity of cons and com, which are juxtaposed in l.8 and again appear near one another at (10, 11, 12) (com also l.3), suggests that the Poet is using the graphic identity of two words to express the one meaning relevant to the context. This poses the question how com de lor faitz non agues is to be undrstood.

The Critic’s translation does not bring clarity: we do not know who the ‘bad men’ or what their non-committed deeds are. One question is the manipulation of end –s. To add or remove it in an obscure text only to fit into known categories, to make the text ‘manageable’, is arbitrary. This procedure may remove evidence for something that may not yet have been understood. It certainly serves the purpose of imposing a ‘sense’ conceived by the Critic, not as deduced from the poem.

l.7   Senher Dieus, quez es del mon capdels e reis

Cr:  “Herr Gott, der du der Welt Herr und Koenig bist” – “Lord God wo art lord and king of the world”

but :  comma not in manuscript, hence Senher Dieus not necessarily an invocation;

quez – neutre form of relative pronoun, in contradiction to masculine senher;

cf. Rudel  5.36   Dieus que fetz tot quant ve ni vai

Raimbaut d’Aurenga 4.55  Cel Dieu qi fes terr e aiga

14.29  Ja Dieus jornz fes qaranta

22.48, 26.7, 29.67

one other example found for quez: Bernart Marti 5.13  E so quez entier non es


alternative possibility: quez from quezir – ‘chercher’; comma in different place:

Senher Dieus quez, es del mon capdels e reis -‘Lord God is seeking, he is head and king of the world’

This may be a strange statement, but that is what the text says.

l.8    Qui anc premiers gardet con, com non esteis

Cr:  “warum ist der, der einst als erster eine Scheide bewacht hat, nicht gestorben?” – “why did he who once was first to guard a vagina not die?”

Nowhere does the Critic say what the sense of this sentence is or who the agent referred to and why this agent should die.

estenher -‘éteindre, toeten’; this means that the agent could have died or himself have caused death to someone; linguistically both options apply.

com non esteis;  cf. Raimbaut d’Aurenga 8.22 Com no.m/nom esteing;

‘how did he not kill’; ‘he did not kill com’; com did not kill’;

Raimbaut: ‘Com kills (the) name’

For some answers to the mystery, cf. Thesis.

l.9     C’anc no fo mestiers ni garda c’a sidons estes sordeis

Cr: “denn nie gab es Amt noch Wache, die fuer ihre Herrin schlechter gewesen waere” – “for never was there a task nor guard which would have been worse for their mistress”

but : sidons – this word implies service by one male agent; Critic’s “ihre” refers to an undefined plural – what does he mean? nowhere does he say what the sense of this line is.

l.10    Pero dirai vos de con cals es sa leis

Cr: “Aber ich werde euch von der Scheide sagen, welche Bewandtnis es mit ihr hat.” – “But I will tell you about the vagina what story is behind it”

but : leis also : ‘law’;  cals – ‘heat’. The second part of the sentence thus gives information about con: ‘heat is its law’;

in the equally possible case ‘which is its law’ the following lines can be expected to give relevant information.

l.11    com cel hom que mal n’a fait e peitz n’a pres

Cr:  “als ein solcher, der uebel mit ihr umgegangen ist und noch uebler durch sie gelitten hat” – “as such a one who dealt badly with it and suffered by it even worse”

but : hom not translated;  sense of line obscure; there is, however, a reference to some mutual action as previously implied in the meaning of estenher ;

l.12    si com autra res en merma qui.n pana e cons creis

Cr:  “so wie etwas anderes, wenn jemand etwas davon wegnimmt, kleiner wird, genauso wird die Scheide dadurch groesser” – ”just as something when one takes a bit away from it becomes smaller, just so the vagina increases”

com added by Critic to make up a perceived defectiveness of the metre.

Does he really think that the Poet was unable to produce a ‘perfect’ metre ?

How does he know that the omission of a syllable, here and elsewhere, is not deliberate ?

Introduction of a fraught word like com, in this context, particularly insensitive.

Once again, the Critic leaves it to the reader to work out his own sense.

l.13         E cilh qui no volran creire mos casteis

Cr:  “Und jene, die meine Ermahnungen nicht glauben wollen” – “And those who do not want to believe my admonitions”

but : Critic ignores tense which is future, not present;

casteis translated as ‘admonitions’ – but where and what are they ?

l.14-15   literal translation without explanation of the ‘wood’-metaphor

l.16-19   likewise he fails to explain the subject of the concluding lines and how they relate to the rest of the poem.

The Critic’s only concern is to compare his translation’favorably to that of another critic, for which he uses two paragraphs on pp.49 and 50.

His entire comment on the poem, after using two and a half pages to print and translate it, amounts to six lines on p.49:

“Das dritte Gedicht Wilhelms ist nichts weniger als ein Beispiel fuer das trobar clus. Inhaltlich gesehen ist es ein zotiges Sirventes auf die ‘Unsitte’ des gardar, das sich durchaus keines derjenigen Stilmittel bedient, die fuer den spaeteren dunklen Stil charakteristisch waeren: die (in ihrer Derbheit nicht zu ueberbietenden) Bilder (v.13ff), durch die der Dichter seine Ausfuehrungen ueber die lei del con veranschaulicht, sind ganz klar und leicht verstaendlich.”

Translation:   “William’s third poem is nothing less than an example of the trobar clus. In terms of content it is an obscene sirventes about the ‘bad practice’ of the gardar, which does not at all make use of the stylistic means that would be characteristic of the later dark style: the images (whose crudeness could not be surpassed) (v.13ff) with which the poet illustrates his remarks about the lei del con are altogether clear and easy to understand.”

Comment:  The Critic’s lei del con – but cf. his treatment of leis at l.10 – is presented like an authentic Provençal quotation which he does not translate – because ‘obscene’ ?

The Critic’s claim that “all is clear and easy to understand” is preposterous.

This is not philology.


Jacques Roubaud                          La Fleur Inverse,  l’art des Troubadours; Paris 1994

Quotations:…  (self-explanatory)


p.8     “L’imagination du lieu, qui était encore possible, accompagnant l’écoute du poème, il y a trente ans, est aujourd’hui sans doute définitivement perdue. Le décor naturel a plus changé en ce dernier quart de siècle qu’en les huit cents années qui précédèrent. Sans oublier l’effet de la nouvelle Croisade des Albigeois, celle des résidences secondaires.”

p.9    “Je (the Critic) connais cette terre, par la marche…je me suis toujours réveillé tôt.”

p.10   “L’amour n’existe pas dans la poésie qui le chante.”

p.13   “On peut envisager, et c’est l’hypothèse qui est retenu ici…”

p.14   “L’hypothèse sera défendu ici…”

p.15   “de trobar clus (secret, fermé) et de trobar leu (léger, clair)”

“Guido Cavalcanti, seul Italien de stature poétique égale aux plus grands des troubadours”

“Cet essai tente, dans l’esprit de ce que vient d’être dit, non une explication, mais une mise en évidence, une ‘monstration’ du trobar, de l’intérieur. Les mots sont les mots des troubadours, les mots du grand chant, les axiomes, les vérités de l’amour non séparées de leur mode d’existence, le vers, et le vers en rimes, en mesures plus complexes, les strophes, la canso.”

“Cette tentative de description…pourra paraître parfois, je le sais, ardue.”

p.17   “L’idée de poésie comme art…comme violence…, idée qui fut celle de bien des poètes (ceux que je préfère) dans la tradition européenne…, je l’ai faite mienne, et j’en vois l’exemple premier chez les troubadours.”

p.37   “Le ‘vers de dreyt nien’ a en partie sa source dans un hors-texte, qui n’est pas la poésie mais la théologie…”

p.40   “Ce n’est pas le néant de tel être montrable…, mais un néant qui atteint, comme le rappelle Saint Thomas, …’la mer infinie et indéterminée de la substance’, ‘quoddam

pelagus substantiae infinitum, quasi non determinatum’.”

p.44   apropos Raimbaut d’Aurenga 24.3: “on ignore ce qu’est un ‘estribot’: pour toutes fins pratiques, on peut le prendre comme le nom d’un ‘je ne sais quoi’ poème.”

“A cause de cette prose, le poème prend son nom de poème, devient un ‘je ne sais quoi’, devient proche du ‘néant’ du ‘nien’ et du ‘non re’.”

p.104   apropos Jaufre Rudel: “Mais la vida, que je (the Critic) vous ai lue”

p.110  apropos Jaufre Rudel 5: “Il y a le texte, ce qui est dit; il y a la musique; il y a que les mots, comme les sons, sont réglés: des syllabes que l’on compte, sur chacun des événements musicaux, en correspondance parfaite, et notée; des vers; des strophes. Tout cela tient ensemble. Rythme, plus exactement squelette rythmique, est ce qui fait que tout cela tient ensemble. Gardons cette image: le squelette tient le corps, la chair; pensons aussi charpente, carène, tout ça. On voudrait mettre à plat cette architecture, l’exhiber. On va faire des dessins, des épures, pour employer un mot devenu pauvre. Plans de maison, etc. Dante, déjà, employait la métaphore maçonnière, disant que la strophe est la chambre de la canzone, stantia. Bien sûr, dans chambre ily a beaucoup plus; on ne s’en privera pas. On va traiter chacun des trois éléments constitutif du squelette de la canso (‘qu’il y en ait trois, et trois seulement, est une thèse’): musique, texte, chant proprement dit (vers, rimes, strophes…(dots by Critic) de la même manière: faire trois squelettes, donc, puis les comparer, superposer.

La bizarrerie de cette méthode de lecture (quand on la rencontre pour la première fois, elle paraît bizarre) est là…Cette hypothèse c’est la théorie du rythme. Plus exactement une théorie du rythme. Elle permet cet exercice, la lecture rythmique.

p.111 continued: Je vais le faire en quelque sorte, ‘naïvement’, sans avoir ‘fondé’ la théorie, ses suppositions…(dots by Critic) je procéderai par affirmations arbitraires; je montrerai comment ça se fait.” etc.

p.210   “Deux cansos qui ont même formule et même mélodie (au sens large: les deux mélodies) coïncidence. Donc sont une seule (donc ont les mêmes mots).

La canso est unique parce que la dame est unique. Chaque canso est une dame. Il n’y a pas deux dames identiques.”

p.347   “Cet essai n’est pas un livre d’érudition.3

Comment:   This book is, however, available in university libraries.


Henri-Irénée Marrou,                Les troubadours (small t); Paris 1961/1971

This small-format book of 186 pages, also available at university libraries, opens with a little personal preface by the Author (henceforth A.) under the heading “Aveu de paternité” – is there anything to be ashamed of? – where A. first defends his name against inappropriate interpretation and his academic record, secondly the fact that he, a well-known specialist in Augustine at the Sorbonne, has chosen a subject for which he is not qualified, his confidence, however, bolstered by praise from someone who is “mon collègue PLG”, “d’une autorité indiscutable”. On this basis A. can justify his undertaking :

the reader learns that it has been a life-long “rêve” to write about this subject and to produce “un grand oeuvre”;

  1. gives no reason for his interest. if it is a “petit livre” after all, this is because of lack of time and energy due to other commitments (“le poids de tant d’entreprises à réaliser”).

Any objections to his venture on the grounds of incompetence are evidence of “étroitesse d’esprit; routine”.

How would A. take to non-academic or ‘unqualified’ comment on Augustine ???

Finally, writing these few pages has given him pleasure – “J’avoue avoir écrit ces quelques pages avec plaisir et comme par jeu” – , main thing ? and to conclude he wonders whether they can be taken seriously. This remains to be seen.


Consulting the Table at the end of the book, nine of the fifteen chapter headings do not reveal any connection with the professed subject. Out of the six remaining ones, four introduce the word Troubadour in relation to non-troubadour subjects, while two positively address the subject : “La poésie des troubadours”, consisting of an astonishing seven pages, “La musique des troubadours”, marginally longer. Hence the first impression : this book is mistitled.


Turning to the Index (p.185), the keyword amour has the longest entry, nine different types of ‘love’ being listed: “antique, américain, arabe, chrétien, courtois, mystique, platonicien, pré-courtois, soviétique”.

While some of these sound intriguing, all of them are irrelevant to the Troubadours whose love is known as fin’ amors.

It is striking that A. takes sides with one of them, the ‘christian’, by calling it ‘healthy’ – “sain” (pp.165/166). Examination will show that nowhere does A. deduce the meaning of ‘love’ from the poetry which he affects to be studying.

The Index then lists “André le Chapelain”, a Frenchman writing in Latin and frequently quoted and referred to throughout the book (ten page references). There is also “Dante” with eleven page references and extensively quoted from the beginning of the book to its end.

How much room is there left for the actual subject ? The Index names thirty-two Troubadours – out of over five hundred – which seems unlikely, for what can possibly be said about so many poets in this booklet, even if it was entirely devoted to them ? It means, of course, in most cases the bare mentioning of a name, which is enough to have it on the Index, in others, a few lines of random quotation, sometimes paraphrased after a fashion, sometimes not – left to impress on their own strength.



Much could be said about A.’s love of story-telling, covering a wide range of subjects drawn from a vast reservoir of knowledge, and about the coq-à-l’âne that produces information on the side, like the formerly German town ‘Koenigsberg’ now called ‘Kaliningrad’, or A. Nykl, a Tcheque, capable of writing in Sanskrit which A. states, is beyond him, or the exact meaning of Russian ‘tcheriomoukha’, of the ‘Prunus’, not the ‘Crataegus family’, if you please. etc., etc., much also about his casual oral style, characterised by pet-words like ‘charmant, beau/belle, chose (meaning anything under discussion including love-making) and especially, massive use of generously all-embracing ‘nous, nos, notre’, for example

Nous sommes toujours sous l’aubépine”(110), a reference to Guilhem IX’s poem 10.

“pour nous tous, Européens”(180), A. associating all of ‘us’ with his perceived ‘amour courtois’.

notre châtelain” (Bertran de Born), duc d’Aquitaine (Guilhem IX), érudit, musique moderne, amour courtois’, etc.

nos érudits, musicologues, and others.

The field is vast, we must leave it at that.


Any results produced in this book are wanted – nothing is left to hazard.

Accordingly, statements are made not based on information drawn from the texts, but on A.’s preconception. He is, of course, a theologian solidly based on Augustine.

In the absence of rational argument he states:

“j’y vois surtout; à mon avis; il n’est guère permis d’en douter; je ne crois pas; le vieil homme que je suis se refuse à le croire; je crois qu’il s’agit; pour ma part, je suis sensible; je n’hésiterais pas, pour ma part; sans être janséniste (A. defending himself against suspicion of ‘heresy’); on peut estimer”, etc.

All these dubitative phrases indicate that A. does not have an argument in hand, of which he is aware!, that would support the related statement concerning his subject – which does not prevent him from treating such statement as a proven fact (a popular method frequently used; cf. Claude d’Esplas, Tristan and Isolt; p.187 and passim). As for A.’s book, the ‘I’ factor is so pronounced that all statements, regardless of their trappings, are to be taken as ex cathedra, that is, on the basis of academic authority – achieved in the field of roman-catholic theology, it is true.

Further contents of the book

The Author and Dante

At the beginning (p.12) A. introduces Dante who will stay around as a leitmotif or guideline to the very end (p.179). There are numerous quotations in Italian and Latin from Dante’s works. What is his function exactly as far as A. is concerned ?


  1. makes it clear : Dante, of proven orthodoxy, has made comments on the Troubadours and produced other works, all of which are highly appreciated by A., to such a point that even before starting his investigation – an investigation which never comes – A. measures these Poets against Dante. This does not promote a better understanding of obscure texts, which is not, of course, A.’s object. He knows what he wants to say and proceeds accordingly.

It suits A. that Dante calls the Poets ‘innovators’, for it is a point he can develop: ‘innovators’ in the limited sense of using the spoken language, the vernacular, for the first time, but, immediately qualifying his praise, otherwise ‘des primitifs’ whose ‘oeuvre délicate…un peu mince’ is inferior to many others, especially Dante’s :

p.14  “Il faut bien le recoonaître, ce que les troubadours ont fait de mieux, leur chef-d’oeuvre, c’est d’avoir permis à dante de les surclasser sur leur propre terrai…”

These could be the words of L.Paterson (cf. my Review) who might have drawn her inspiration from A.

After this assessment A. embarks on a description of the Poets’ material circumstances. It all sounds as though the Oc Poets have something to be thankful for. The book ends with a full page of homage paid to Dante, A., however, also naming once again the ‘poètes provençaux’ (what about the Limousin?) who were lucky enough to figure in ‘Hell’ or ‘Purgatory’ or even ‘Paradise’.



  1. gives a definite assessment of the Troubadours at the beginning of his book, not the appropriate place by any standards, by introducing from outside a model against which he  measures the Poets to their disadvantage. The direction is thus given from the start and the book’s title may be justified after all, if in an unusual way : A. will not have an open, positive approach to his subject, but a negative one. The object will not be investigation, clarification, improved understanding, but, in the presence of an already fixed view, it will be assignation of a place which, according to A., these Poets should have. To this, undeclared, end, A. proceeds by means of subtle wording, for ex. using patronising ‘nos’, etc., banal terms like ‘charmant’, etc., even slangy ones like ‘chose’, making use of suggestion, insinuation, implication and outright criticism, dispensing with any solid evidence. A. wants to air personal resentment which is so great that he takes time off a busy schedule to write a book against his subject, the Troubadours  of the title.


The Author and ‘christianisme’

One reason for A.’s disapproval of the Troubadours is easy to see: described as ‘spécialiste d’Augustin et catholique fervent’ (revue Istina, t.LI, 2006, p.331;  see also M.Harl, La Bible en Sorbonne, 2004, pp.70-71), A. will view the central issue of the poetry, love, from a Church of Rome (henceforth CoR) basis. There are numerous indications in the text that this is so. Leaving aside outspoken praise for Dante’s ‘christian love’ (implied: the Oc poets cannot meet this perceived high standard), leaving aside also the fact that he holds Foulque de Marseille in high esteem – because also from Marseille and later Bishop of Toulouse who severely took the ‘heretics’ to task – and the fact of repeatedly seeking support for his assertions from CoR sources not declared in the bibliography, like ‘le Père Denomy’ and others as well as a distinct preaching tone in places (pp.29, 35, 36, 165, 167), there are more subtle references throughout in the form of words that almost imperceptibly direct the reader towards the CoR-view:

“païen, hérétique, blasphématoire, orthodoxe, chaste, pur, bonnes moeurs, putains(!)” and last not least “adultère”.

All these words are part of CoR vovabulary and imply judgment, pre-judgment which is incompatible with the principle of objectivity.

The case of ‘adultère’

The Author is fascinated by a basic issue of love, sexuality. “utrum copularentur ?” he asks, bashfully expressing himself in Latin -”je parlerai latin cette fois” p.159 – and seizes every opportunity to dwell on it, secure with his qualifier ‘obscene’ (105), beginning with ‘putains’ (9), quoting with gusto Guilhem IX  -”Tant les f–is comme entendrez”-  , insinuating that there is more and better (105), giving an example from French literature (107) and even an archbishop’s feelings vehemently expressed in Latin, this time, though, in terms  A. is happy to qualify as ‘chaste marivaudage’ (142), not like Flamenca (spread out on one and a half pages, 155-6) or the Breviari d’amor (in detail, p.166)  –  all of this allegedly in order to better see the difference with ‘christian’ love : “contraste absolu entre morale chrétienne et morale courtoise” (167), which prompts the question whether A. accepts more than one ‘morale’, is he a hypocrite ?

He calls Tristan et Yseult a ‘belle histoire’ – but how can he ? Is not the subject against all morality ? One of his favourite reproaches made to Troubadour poetry is ‘adultère’, a word which implies severe blame…

Anyhow, it can be taken for granted that A. is based on Non moechaberis. (Exodus 20:4), even if he does not say so. However, he does refer to a text of the New Testament, which he quotes at the Troubadours, arguing that even if ‘adultery’ is not consummated, the mere desire is as bad as the deed :

“Et moi je vous dis : quiconque regarde une femme avec le désir dans son coeur, celui-là a déjà commis l’adultère.” Mt. 5:28 .

Comment   A. falsifies the text: ‘dans son coeur’ should come after ‘adultère’.

Interested only in his personal view of the subject, a severe, authoritarian view based on implied threat and punishment, he wants the word ‘adultery’ by itself without the added and apparently softening ‘in the heart’, for strictly speaking concrete deeds only would be  relevant to the law. At the same time, the feeling of desire now associated with the ‘heart’  implies that even the very least little bit of desire, a mere thought, is already a transgression of the law, such is the severity.

This understanding is pure Old Testament: the audience are cowed into submission, an all-male audience, for women are not addressed or included, except as being instrumental in causing men to break the law.

What is really the message of this New Testament text ?

The original text of the Vulgate on which A. is based is as follows :

Ego autem dico vobis : Omnis qui viderit mulierem ad concupiscendam eam, iam moechatus est eam in corde suo.

‘But I tell you : Everyone who will see a woman and desire her, has already committed adultery with her in his heart.’


omnis, ‘everyone, quiconque’, is a comprehensive term for both male and female humans.

mulier, ‘woman, femme’, is the female human in general without regard for social status.

Man is addressed in his/her quality of natural being, not as a being of society.

moechatus est, ‘has committed adultery, a commis l’adultère’, thus applies to all humans.

In the given purely human context, ‘adultery’ must have a meaning beyond the limited one it has in the context of society where it is used with reference to marriage only, not to single members of society.

According to the text, this unknown meaning of ‘adultery’ is linked to a natural endowment shared by all humans, sexuality.

The endowment, nature-given, is a problematic one, linked as it is to a term implying blame. This means that all humans have from birth a problem forced upon them

by nature, a problem caused by sexuality. This is new information about human existence.

All elements of the statement relate to this problem, to sexuality:

Whoever ‘sees’ a woman desiring her, has of necessity and uncontrollably so a physical reaction, or movement, in the relevant part of the body. Nature is such that the sense of sight, if not all senses, is linked to the sexual organ.

The Author himself states : ”tout ce qui peut tenir dans l’éclair d’un regard échangé”(156), warning of it as the first step that must be resisted to avoid worse. A. is here far from his  severe interpretation of the NT text according to which this first step is already one too many!

Likewise, the ‘heart’ with all its feelings is inevitably linked to movement, manifestation, of the sexual organ. Given the Troubadour context wanted by A., it is opportune to quote Marcabru who in poem 38 (ed. Dejeanne) states Que.l cor a sotz emborilh – ‘For he has his heart under the navel’, thus giving cor also the meaning of sexual organ.

The text highlights a natural phenomen to which man is subjected without knowing why, a phenomen causing conflict with the law of society because stronger. The text highlights the hypocrisy of the law, or of society, which does not recognise its impotence vis-à-vis nature-given facts, but is happy to call control what amounts to a mere covering-up.

To this, the text replies that a man may well not commit ‘adultery’ in the sense of society. He/She cannot, however, avoid committing it on the level of nature, which prompts the question why this should be so, a question that is suppressed by the law of society.

Information about the unknown concept of natural ‘adultery’, which because of its link with society somehow engages man’s responsibility, can be extracted form other biblical texts, an obvious NT one being John 8 (Jesus and the adulteress).

The Author and the Troubadours

The Author makes use of the poetry without regard for its meaning, prepared as he is to state about it whatever suits his ulterior motives, for example

p.106  In the process of discrediting the “obscene” Guilhem IX, A. has no time for the spring-opening of this Troubadour’s poem 10, which he dismisses with the words

“déblayons rapidement l’accessoire, le cadre stéréotypé de la reverdie, de la chanson de printemps”,  followed by quotation and translation of the lines in question, without further comment. One might ask why quote something that is not worth, according to A., spending any time with. It does fill about a third of a page…


p.168   Chapter on ‘christianisme’:  A. is at pains to prove that the Troubadours are a worthy part of this tradition and notes presence of ‘théologie orthodoxe de la

Création’ in the Troubadours’ spring-opening: “toute la beauté du monde…cette splendeur qu’évoque si bien l’exorde printanier cher aux plus anciens Troubadours”.  The reader is baffled at this appreciation which seems to contradict the quotation from p.106.

But, of course, it is not a matter of interpreting poetry – it is one of fitting poetry into a preconceived scheme. Such a procedure leaves the poetry untouched while causing loss of time to the reader.

For A. all is clear – “l’énigme s’éclaire pour peu qu’on fasse effort” (p.72, remark about trobar clus). In this cas, a few questions are permitted :

meaning of ira

Bernart de Ventadorn (“à notre – whose?- goût le plus grand, p.18)

17.46  no m’a ira mortal

24.32  que.m torn en joi e.m get d’ ira mortal

How does A. translate the term ira  mortal ?

Raimbaut d’Aurenga

3.20  Dieus en ira.m met ab ela

Meaning of ira ? How to explain that it is wanted ?

Raimon de Miraval

7.3  Qu’iratz chan e.m deport e.m ri

18.39  Si to m’aves, Mais d’Amic, cor irat

Meaning of irat ?

12.19  Que.m digan so don m’irais

19.20  Per que.l plus fi drutz s’irais

Meaning of irais ?

19.52  Et ieu no sai mais ir’ e cor fello

Meaning of ir’ in connection with fello ?

How does A. deal with other indications of violence affecting the Lady in the works of the Troubadours ? forsar, cometre, violar, raubar, empenher, aucir, mort, felon, etc.

be – mal

Has A. noticed that according to the Troubadours one cannot have one without the other and that therefore both must be had, if not appreciated : be and mal ?

Guilhem Montanhagol 8.9  e.l be e.l mal mercean

Raimbaut d’Aurenga  19.18  Car par mal suy amoros

Bernart de Ventadorn  42.41  Lo bes e.l mals sia.lh grazitz

Cercamon  7.33  On sera totz lo mals e.l bes

3.41  Qu’apres lo mals me venra.l bes

Raimon de Miraval  19.49  Mais d’amic, los bes e.l mals

50  Degr’ om partir comunals  –

‘Mais d’amic, the good and the bad

one must remove together’

This means that removal of ‘bad’ implies removal of ‘good’, evidence of a duality theme underlying Troubadour poetry (cf. the on- the other, young-old, truth-lie).

In this context : How to understand frequent references to the ‘end of love, youth’ and all things ‘good’ ?

fin’ amors – ‘love ends’, the price to be paid for the end of mal.


on the side of the lovers, even physically interested :

Raimbaut d’Aurenga  22.25  Gran esfort fai Dieus qar sofer

26  C’ab si no la.n pueja baizan

‘God makes a great effort, for he suffers not to raise, mount her kissing’

Raimon de Miraval  21.28  E.ill genser es desotz Deu  –

‘and she is the noblest under God’

Is there more than one ‘god’ ?

Dieus qualified by vers, verays (cf. quotations by A., pp.168? 175) – ‘true God’ – as opposed to another divine agent who would be the opposite, such as required by logic.

Raimon de Miraval  21.29  Per qu’ieu am mais domnejar

30  Que mo mal senhor forsar

‘for I would rather serve (my Lady) than force, do violence to my bad Lord.’

another possibility : ‘for I like serving my Lady better / than my bad Lord forcing (her).’

qu’ieu virtually reproduces dieu, by rhyme, preceded by qui.

Who is mal senhor liable to suffer / do violence ?

Bernart Marti  9.25  Mas si Dieus vol far mon coman – ‘but if God wants to carry out my order’

What does A. make of this ? Does he still think that the Poets are part of his ‘christianisme’ ?

These are a few examples of open questions to which A. has no answer, except that all is ‘clear’ (cf. above).

La Dame and Catharism

Although A. gives the appearance of a misogynist who prefers an all-male environment (cf. Augustine, Thomas Aquinas), —

cf. p.161 “véritable surestimation métaphysique de la femme”, “idolatrie”;

p.176 “il ne faudrait pas imaginer…un principe féminin au sein de la divinité”, (a reference to “la Vierge”)

p.25   “chant du lavoir…l’admirable et mâle mélodie” and other references to Marcabru and “unmarried” Troubadours (how does he know ?);

p.99   “amour à dominante masculine”

p.102 “amour à dominante virile” (true to Genesis 3:16; 4:1, etc. and to Augustine);

p.103  This is “amour pré-courtois”.

The domination of male continues for ‘amour courtois’, if in a passive way, by not introducing a parallel of ‘dominante féminine’, but instead continuing with references to “l’homme” whose turn it is “d’aimer et de languir”.

cf. also pp.55-62, 75, 99, etc.: stories for men in the absence of women;

p.170-171 A. voicing criticism of Robert d’Arbrissel’s relationship with the ladies (an abbess to preside over monks !). —

In spite of all this, the book is haunted by a feminine presence, expressing itself by, for example, a high frequency of ‘elle’ by itself or in words like ‘belle, quelle, celle, telle’, words that refer to such concepts as ‘langue, église, cour, influence, richesse’ and others, even linked to a ‘reine des sciences, la théologie’. The visual impression of ‘elle’ is strengthened by an early ‘Dame’ ‘p.15) and names like ‘Da-nte’ or ‘Nostre-Dame’.

The essence of woman, represented by an unidentified impersonal model called ‘Dame’, occurs several times, until it materializes pictorially (p.144) in the context of the chapter on ‘Troubadours et Cathares’ :

The picture shows the seal of a nobleman. A knight is kneeling in front of a lady, two ribbons flowing from his helmet, a sword hanging on his side and a dagger(?) held out towards the lady who takes both his hands, or wrists, to lift him up.

A.’s caption is “hommage à la dame” – why with a small d here, is left to the reader to find out.

The subject depicted is obviously considered important enough to be shown on a seal. It is the subject, in the presence of persisting obscurity, of Troubadour poetry. It is striking that this picture occurs in A.’s discussion of the non-existent link, in his view, between the Poerts and Catharism. An intuitive choice ?

The Author knows very well that the Cathars are headed by a Lady, leader of a movement in faith. He quotes, at relative length (nine lines) Guilhem Monanhagol in his chapter on ‘L’Amour courtois’. He knows that this Poet pays homage to Esclarmonda no less than four times in the fourteen poems preserved. However, he chooses to ignore this and to stick to some general, commonly accepted remarks on ‘dualisme; manichéisme’.

It is clear that A. detests Catharism, whatever the argument :

“l’hérésie albigeoise…avait pu s’afficher librement et avec une insolence croissante”.

He strongly defends his view that Troubadour poetry has nothing whatsoever to do with Catharism, not by putting forward arguments, but by attacking others who take the liberty to have a different opinion :

“l’hypothèse cathare…fantôme…à exorciser (religious term!);  tentation obsédante…défendue par des esprits tout à fait farfelus; les maniaques de l’ésotérisme; fureur dialectique” (pp.145, 146).

Why this strength of feeling ? Why the forced and false arguments in other chapters to support that Troubadour poetry really belongs into the ‘christian tradition’ ? To make it innocuous ? Because he can smell a danger to ‘orthodoxy’ ?

A. states his view of love as dealt with by the Troubadours, at the end : “il s’agit bien…d’une affaire menée entre un homme et une femme, l’un et l’autre (note: duality-theme) bien réels.” Just what he means by ‘affaire’ he does not say.

The non-mentioning of Esclarmonda does not prevent A. from making oblique references to her. Turning the pages, one comes across statements expressing ideas, possibilities, like

“la Dame…simplement” (145)

“la femme, médiatrice d’absolu”(147)

“la femme pour la vie et la femme pour la mort” (duality-theme) (148)

“c’est très sincèrement que les troubadours ont touché la note religieuse…quand pour mieux célébrer la Dame on s’écrie (sic!) que ‘Dieu jamais n’en créa de plus belle’ “ (168)

“un principe féminin au sein de la divinité” (176), even if this is taken negatively.

There are even more definite references :

“l’exaltation de la Dame…jucher son amour en si haut puy (which puy, or pog, does he have in mind ???)…sentiment religieux” (158) – ‘la Dame’ is linked to a mountain.

“écoutez plutôt la Comtesse”, no name added (162).

“Dona Estela del mon” (175), translated by A. as “Dame Etoile du monde”.

Much as he hints, suggests, implies, insinuates, several lines before and several after the quotation of the name, to whom this designation would apply in his opinion, the actual evidence is there for all to see:

Estela del mon must be a reference to Esclarmonda, ‘Light of the world’ (G. Montanhagol), ‘Astre de Monsegur’ (F. Mistral), evidence conjured up, as it were, by A. himself. The climax of a development traceable throughout the book (cf. quotations).

A second text

The text established by A. contains a second text unwittingly embedded in the first.  This is in accordance with logic which demands that where there is lie, there must be truth, the one not conceivable without the other.

The two texts are in opposition to one another: Where A. negates, the second text affirms, ‘no’ means ‘yes’, and the other way round.

A. states that the Troubadours are to be situated within the bounds of CoR and that there are no references to Catharism in their works (except Guilhem Montanhagol, eight times).

A. provides no evidence for his assertions – he is limited to hypotheses made by others, which he simply calls wrong or right, depending on their suitability for his own objectives.

The second text contains evidence against his assertions :

A. himself draws attention to a key text from the NT, giving it an OT gloss which does not resist a more in-depth analysis.

The word avoutro -‘adulterer’ occurs in a Cathar context in Las Novas del Heretge:

qe.l home filh de Dieu apelas avoutro (l.77) -”for you call man, the son of God, adulterous”.

This is not a reference to Exodus 20:14 and man, the member of society, but to man in general, a part of nature, as by Mt.5:28 as duly quoted by A.

The senhal given on p.175, Dona Estela del mon, a powerful indication of the true direction to take in the understanding of Troubadour poetry, is the culmination of a developmentmarked by sentences such as :

“nos poètes d’oc, eux qui ne cessent de parler de lum et de clartatz” (148);

This statement occurs in the chapter about ‘Cathares’ !

“la même femme ne peut être à la fois et pour le même homme, la ‘femme pour la vie’ et la ‘femme pour la mort’ 148);

However, the opposite is true as proved by investigation of relevant texts (Troubadours, Vulgate, Records of the Inquisition) – what is ‘death’, what is ‘life’ according to these sources ?

As for the human constitution, A. himself notes :

“les hommes de ce temps…, comme nous le sommes, divisés au plus profond d’eux-mêmes” (167) and quotes a Troubadour: al meu semblan -’to him who is in my image’

p.157). This is a reference to another being linked to the Poet and to Genesis 1/26.

Does this mean that A. accepts ‘two beings in one’ ? He does not say. The relevant texts are more eloquent/

A. quotes five lines with twice clartatz referring to a Domna who is more powerful than all other ladies in the world – totas celas del mon (157). ‘Light’ and ‘world’ are linked to a certain name, of course.

“Chez les troubadours, la quête amoureuse est comme lestée d’une exigence d’absolu” (161).  A. feels, in the absence of rational argument, that more is at stake than the bienséances of society. The fact is that the perceived ‘quête d’absolu’ is linked to a natural power called ‘love’.

The second text is strengthened by a visually striking feminine presence in the form of ‘Dame, elle / c-ela’ and can be enlarged by meanings inherent in the words and structures used (deconstruction), for example Estela – est ela – es tela (significance to be elucidated).

All the quoted occasional statements/sentences/words, seen together, give a picture which, thrown into relief by A.’s increasingly grotesque, pure assertions that culminate in the treatment of the senhal (175), states the truth  — while A. states the opposite. Of course, he states lie and truth jointly according to logic.

The truth is that the guiding star of the Cathars, Esclarmonda, is the Lady revered by the Troubadours. The needed scientific evidence can be found in the works of

Guilhem Montanhagol.


Charles Camproux               Seigner Dieu qui es du monde tête et roi 

                                                              Canso III de Guilhem de Peitieus

                                                              in Mélanges Le Gentil S.E.D.E.S.       1973,  pp.161-174

Comment on translation (some examples) :


l.1   Companho tant ai agutz d’avols conres

“Compagnons, tant ai connu de visl c…rois”

Critic avoids the difficulty of conres by not translating it at all, which he openly admits:

p.165 “…polysémie du terme conres…je m’en suis tenu autant que possible à la valeur la plus neutre, au sème zéro…du terme”

l.2   Qu’ieu non puesc mudar non chan e que no.m pes

“que ne puis sinon chanter en m’attristant”

Critic takes l.2 as one, not two, subordinate clause(s).

l.3   Enpero no vueill c’om sapcha mon afar de maintas res.

“et pourtant ne veux qu’on sache mon affaire en moultes dames”

“et” not in text;

“moultes dames” not in text; maintas res not translated. Critic more interested in  his own antiquating style than in the Poet’s text.

l.4   E dirai vos m’entendensa de que es

“Et vous dirai mon sentment comme il est”

translation not justifiable in text

l.6   Ni gabars de malvatz homes com de lor faitz non agues

“vantardise d’imbéciles dont on ne peut rien tirer”

not justifiable in text

l.9   C’anc no fo mestiers ni garda c’a sidons estes sordeis


“Jamais service ni garde ne furent pis pour leur dame”

sidons – ‘sa dame’; “leur” inappropriate;

l.11   Com sel hom que mal n’a fait e peitz n’a pres

“en homme qui” does not render com sel hom qui ;

no evidence that Poet is meant, as alleged, by sel hom;

Critic’s comment (selection) :

p.166, ll.3 and 6 :  “si Guilhem a précisé qu’il ne veut pas qu’on sache son affaire de plus d’une matière, c’est qu’l entend prendre ses distances avec ces malvatz homes qui se vantent stupidement à propos de c…; vantardises qui ne riment à rien qu’à souligner leur stupidité”

but : de maintas res does not mean ‘de plus d’une matière’; why does Critic not stick to his translation given on p.164 ? why does he not translate malvatz homes ?

no basis in text for assertion that Poet intends to ‘distance’ himself from malvatz homes,

malvatz homes are boasting about ‘con’ (bashfully not spelled out by Critic),

malvatz homes are stupid, boasting underlines their alleged stupidity.


p.167   “une invocation à la toute-puissance de Dieu dans l’ordre de la nature”

but : pure assertion

p.168   “Notre chanson est, réellement, un castiamen ou, si l’on préfère, un ensenhamen qui veut corriger une mauvaise entendensa

but : pure assertion in the absence of any attempt at explanation

p.170   “J’interprète donc sans plus: ‘pour une possibilité qu’on dérobe à c… d’exercer son activité et de jouer son rôle, il en naît deux ou trois fois plus’. C’est évidemment

une leçon pour les gardadors…c’est en même temps un hommage à la femme, mise à la place que lui a donné le Seigneur Dieu qui est du monde tête et roi.”

but : Without further analysis -”sans plus”-  which means without support from the text, Critic spells out what he thinks the text is about.

p.171   “J’ajouterai à titre d’hypothèse…”

but : philologically not of interest

PP.173/174   “il (le poème) développe simplement un thème bien général…C’est que la femme est, essentiellement, dotée par la nature de ce qui l’a fait être femme et que vouloir n’en point tenir compte est stupidité…Guilhem ne fait, dans notre chanson, que prendre le parti de la nature voulue par ce Seigneur  Dieu, maître et roi du monde…Guilhem, optimiste, remonte ici aux sources de la création divine, du Seigneur Dieu, maître et roi.”

but : Why does the Critic not spell out con, if he considers it a natural feature given by God?

The Critic’s conclusion as quoted above does not originate in the poem – it is the Critic’s invention.

For an index of further scholarly works on the Toubadours, which are open to the criticism as given in the above Reviews, cf.


Claude d’Esplas           Tristan et Iseut, Moscow 1994

de Bayreuth à Monsegur




The study attempts decodation of another language present in the texts, precondition for any statement about the Poets’ concept of love.

The language, and with it the access to the poetry, is found with the help of rhymes involving vowels e and o which are subject to an oral feature, vowel-quality, which is not expressed graphically.

Vowel-quality decides about the meaning of words which are identical graphically, e.g. pes :  closed e – ‘thought, weight’

open e – ‘foot; penis’. For the latter meaning, cf. my chapter on the meaning of pes.

The meaning of the word is intimately linked to a specific sound. If the sound, in this case that of open or closed e, changes from normal use, the meaning is not recognised any more in oral language.

For the rhyme, characterized by identity of sound, this means that in the case of closed e,   all rhyme-words will be in closed e. If open e is assumed, the rhyme must logically be in open e.

It is the need of the rhyme, the unifying sound at the end of a line, which takes precedence over customary usage and this at the expense of word-meaning.

If the rhyme is in open e, all those rhyme-words, which have primary closed e, are forced by the rhyme to adopt open e, thus losing their meaning, at least in oral language. e.g. res – ‘thing’ must have closed e for this meaning to materialize. However, in a rhyme in open e, the graphy res is forced to echo other rhyme-words characterized by primary open e, like pes – ‘penis’. res is thus forced to echo the sound and with it the meaning of pes. This is achieved by means of the shared vowel-consonant group es.

Under these circumstances, the meaning of res, identifiable graphically/visually, but not orally/aurally, takes second place behind that of the echoed open e – word pespes appears echo-like in res which is thus marked in the first place by the meaning of pes.

The echo is not the same as the original. If it imparts a meaning, this implies that the echoing v-c-group es has a meaning in its own right, an unknown meaning, but one which is related to that of the lead-word pes and other words with primary open e. Accordingly, res, considered orally and in writing, is a ‘thing’ which carries the echo of pes. Just what it means in relation to pes remains to be investigated.

Oral and written features must be taken together to do justice to the Langue d’oc and thus approach the full meaning of the texts.

The meaning can only be found by making use of the full potential of the language.

This function of es can only be ascertained in the rhyme. It passes unnoticed within the text. The feature of line-internal rhyme shows, however, that es with closed e, eliminated in the end-rhyme, is also eliminated within the text. Wherever es appears in the end-rhyme and at the same time also inside the line, line-internal rhyme requires identity of sound and hence es with open e.


1°   Elimination of closed e means that the graphical symbol e represents open e only.

2°   The meaning of es, related to that of pes, is present in every occurrence of es within any given word. This means that in addition to the word-meaning, the meaning of  es is also present.

3°   The dominating factor shared by all v-c-groups with e in the rhyme, e.g. es, is the vowel. The vowel-meaning can be approached with the help of the v-c-groups and their lead-words with primary open e, e.g. pes. A factor already known is the graphical representation of the vowel.

The same observations can be made with respect to o.

The meaning of the vowels a,i,u, not subject to quality, is approached by means of key-words signalled in the texts.

As a result, love turns out to be the only subject of Troubadour poetry and a phenomenon marked by the meaning of vowels.

At the present stage it can be said that amors designates the supreme act of union which is carried out, not for its own sake, but for the sake of events that will result from it.

Remark 2

This work was started without any prior knowledge of the Troubadours. Initially, the subject of research was the Beroul version of the Tristan legend. It was hoped that with the help of the Troubadours light could be thrown on the obscurities in this Old French text. However, investigation of some Oc Poets revealed that, in the presence of many dark passages, it was not possible to ascertain their concept of love, a general problem, highlighted, for example, by the existence of ten different interpretations of one and the same poem, Guilhem IX’s poem 4 (cf. L.T.Topsfield, Troubadours and Love, Cambridge 1975, pp.33-34).

It was decided to launch a full-scale investigation into the beginnings of Troubadour poetry. As a result, a new level of meaning was found. Systematic deconstruction, to which the Langue d’oc lends itself in an astonishing way, brought to light unexpected pieces of information, e.g. jovensjo vens -’I/he/she overcome/s (the) yoke’; voluntiersvol un tiers -’I/he/she want/s a third’. The vowel o, significant for the subject ‘love’ through its occurrence in the phrase far o -’to make love’, was also found to frequently represent meaning by itself, e.g. volovol o -’I/he/she wants o’; peroper o -‘for the sake of o’. The question arose: what is the meaning of?

The other vowels, too, were found to occur independently, which led to the conclusion that they must be carriers of meaning. In this case, their meaning must be present wherever they occur,not only in isolation, but also inside words.

The next step was the discovery, with the help of the rhyme, of the v-c-groups as carriers of meaning. It was found that these groups characterize monosyllabic lead-words whose meanings give access to the meanings of the v-c-groups and lastly of the vowels. The study therefore represents an attempt to decode a language based on vowels, not on words, as carriers of meaning, which is embedded into conventional language.

How does one introduce a subject of which one is not in control; a language whose xistence one has perceived, but whose message is largely unknown ? The reader cannot be spared the laborious beginnings of the decoding process. The work reflects the student’s own progress from knowing next to nothing to gradually increasing insight of a still quite limited natgure. Re-reading earlier chapters after completion of the work is frustrating, because analyses could be carried out more rigorously and more simply on the basis of increased knowledge. However, at the time, this knowledge still had to be acquired. There is the necessity to go into trotuous detail in order to gain a foothold which may be superseded by future findings. The tendency is from complication to simplicity. The better the understanding, the simpler the explanation. Initially the texts can be exploited in only a limited way. Eight lines by Guillem de Bergueda, for example, are analysed for their es-factor only, because more is not possible at that particular stage.

One practical problem is the fact that the elements of the unknown language have to be explained singly, one after the other, while the texts present the language complete, without consideration for the plight of the beginner. It is therefore sometimes necessary to refer to results whose origin will not be explained until later.

The words conventional and unconventional are used to differentiate between normal language based on word-meanings, grammar and syntax, and vowel-language based on the meanings of monosyllabic lead-words, v-c-groups and vowels, constituents of a linguistic system not governed by the rules of conventional language.

NB  Detailed analysis of individual texts is necessarily far from exhaustive, the decoding process being at its very beginning.